Fostering accountability is the bedrock for how our world, country, businesses, and people have both thrived and succeeded, yet can also fail against when we do not share the same intentions and standards of how we lead our society and businesses forward. If we can be brutally honest about accountability, it is viewed by many as a liability, not an asset. When it comes to our organizations, this shows up as "things we do or comply with" so that we can get something. For example, our year-end review is for the promotion or bonus, going to training is because it looks good and we want to be marketable, and there are certainly many other examples where people "do it because they have to."
The other challenge in fostering accountability is that we view it through the prism of a direct manager or the executive sponsor or leader that our boss reports to. That is about "me, my team, my region/office," and not the greater value and impact to which we are truly accountable. This means how what we do impacts the other departments that our deliverables are connected to. Think of any SaaS organization where the sales and account managers who work with marketing then work with the customer service and IT departments. There are different deliverables that we know connects to the customer, but not shared accountability. This often leads to delays, last minute shifts or changes to ensure customer impact which is great, and we need that but often not necessary if we were fostering accountability.
As a result, training is put in the challenging position of building capability rather than skill for their organization without any hope of success (Remember Critical Shift #2? If you've not read that yet, you're in a lot of trouble for reading this before that. Just kidding!). This is because we have to be the key linchpin in fostering accountability, not what they are learning but what they are building and activating so that this achieves greater value for them, their team, the teams they work with, and the organization. That is accountability based on collaboration, not just the job they were hired for.
To achieve this, here are the critical steps in which you must start:
Before the training, the overall development path, or fiscal year, is established we need to (going back to the first three critical shifts) make sure we are absolutely aligned to what is Really Most Important™ in the fiscal year for our stakeholders and employees, and how that translates to the capability they must build in order to the objectives of the organization and their function.
We must look at what progression our stakeholders expect their people to make this year and how that translates to the quarterly and monthly objectives they have. We then have to align that to the career path and developmental goals the employees have for themselves. This allows a focus on progression and growth that we then map against the objectives of the stakeholder’s function and each individual.
Then it is about establishing a true understanding of the accountability needed and challenges that people know they will have in their mindset, and the time and application to truly hardwire the learning into capability that becomes a part of who we are and how we lead.
We then establish the type of cadence and frequency, so that before, during, and after our trainings, we visit for a 15-minute huddle to work with them to ensure this is saving time and creating real tangible value and impact that we can replicate and scale.
Lastly, it is about asking for permission and building trust. This is done so that they know we are there to hold the employees accountable in partnership with the key stakeholders, to drive impact not learning (see critical shift #5). To do that we must understand and commit to what the stakeholders and employees are comfortable with being held accountable on and what they are not comfortable with. What are they willing to be pushed on and what they need more time on. You add that to a one-page document that includes their overall business goals, the value we will bring in our partnership and sign it.
Fostering accountability takes time. Like going to the gym, or organizationally when we are converting to a new CRM, we have to focus on progress, not perfection, while reducing breakdowns and driving breakthroughs that yield real gains people can see, not just wait for a report. You do that, and you are now able to drive accountability, not just attendance.
To your success.