Accountability is an overused word and an underutilized behavior. It means, of course, “doing what you say you’ll do.” It’s also characterized by “owning up to a mistake, correcting it, and apologizing to anyone harmed by that mistake.” Accountability has everything to do with setting expectations, and then managing those expectations. By establishing the types of behaviors that support the values of the company, and clearly communicating them on a regular basis throughout the company, you’re creating a strong path for growth.
There are two ways, though, that accountability can fall flat. First, we don’t explain the expectations well enough and, second, we don’t follow up to see if our expectations are being met. In other words, accountability is a communications issue and a management issue.
If you say to an employee, “You need to fill out your time sheet on time,” that’s setting an expectation. When you say, “If time sheets aren’t filled out on time, we can’t invoice clients on time and that affects our ability to pay salaries,” you’re explaining the why behind that expectation. If the employee doesn’t complete the time sheet on time the first time, you need to follow up and find out why. This isn’t micromanaging. It’s not babysitting. It’s managing to expectations. And if you set expectations, be prepared to follow up and make sure they’re met.
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