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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Getting More Clarity On A Culture Of Accountability

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

People who read this column on a regular basis know I write quite a bit about accountability. Even with my consistent focus on the subject and other sources of information about it out there, it's still a grey area or cloudy to some. So, let’s try to get to a more focused position of clarity on accountability culture today.

Accountability is the assumption of a leader to own a particular activity and result. Using an analogy, I often use, if you worked in a peach orchard as a peach picker, your role would be Peach Harvester, or some appropriate description and your accountability would be to pick peaches and to produce 50 peaches picked per day. This is probably low, but it's for illustration purposes only. For further clarity on the outcome, it might also be states as 250 peaches per week or 1,000 peaches per month in a four-week month. The accountability is for you, as a peach picker to show up by month's end with 1,000 peaches picked at the end of the business day on the last business day of the month and perhaps 3,000 peaches at the end of the quarter and 12,000 peaches at the end of the year. You have obligated yourself to your leader as a peach picker you will own the job of producing 12,000 peaches picked per year. You own the activity and the outcome.

In the correct cultural environment of accountability, no leader or manager should have to remind you of your ownership obligation of the weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual activities or results unless, of course, you have failed to engage as an owner of the accountability, at which point if the culture is being facilitated correctly, the culture of the organization will begin your obvious exit from the organization before it becomes a formal activity or function of your manager.

In every organization, you possibly can reach a point when you must decide wither you are meant for each other or not. A culture of accountability greatly speeds up that process if the leaders of the organization are not willing to compromise on the fundamentals of the culture. That does not mean there isn't room for coaching for improved performance, there should be an ample amount of that so the person in question has every opportunity to succeed and at the same time, once that window of opportunity has closed without producing the required accountable results, leaders must have the fortitude to move on and exit the relationship, no matter how painful and how big a hassle recruitment, selection, hiring and training are perceived to be. Since we are striving for clarity, if an individual cannot operate within a culture of accountability with requirements of excellence, clarity of role, function and results with truth and transparency in coaching & support in an acceptable time frame, that person must exit the organization.

This is the main reason business leaders and managers shy away from accountability. When executed properly, it forces you to take action when results are not achieved. In a culture of accountability, you can't play favorites and you can't stick your head in the sand when things are not going well. This applies whether someone has been with the company 30 minutes or 30 years.

In other words, leaders from the top to the bottom have to resist the temptation to lower the bar for anyone. This is because the bar has been set appropriately for performance in every role, every function and every outcome at every level. There can be changes to the level of the bar, but only by buy-in and discussion by leaders as a group both vertically and horizontally through the organization and most importantly, the changes in bar level must be to roles, not people's names. Hopefully, this helps you get clearer on what a culture of accountability would do for your organization. Good luck!!

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