Accountability Begins With “A”

As a consultant, I am privileged to work with many different clients from many different parts of this great country. Even though the clients and locations are different, it seems there is a certain call to action that happens in nearly all of them. Managers are told they need to “hold their people accountable”.

Although it sounds pretty easy, what exactly does that mean? How do you do that?

Often, in our zest for achieving the accountability we desire, we jump right into the part where we get angry and yell, attack, or discipline our employees because they fall short of our expectations.

During the course of performing my job, I spend a lot of time speaking and interacting with my client’s employees. It never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear stories from those employees where they were “yelled at”, or they “got in trouble” for something they had no idea they were supposed to do.

Not only does this cause animosity and angst among those employees, but they still do not have a clear understanding of exactly what they are expected to do.

So, what do you need to do? Before you jump ahead to “C”, “D” or “E” in your action steps, I believe you need to go back to the beginning, back to “A” (so to speak).

Perhaps the easiest way to begin this process (Step “A”) is to meet with your employees and talk with them. Clearly lay out what your expectations are for them and ask them if there is anything they need from you in order for them to achieve your expectations. It is your responsibility as a leader to make sure your employees have that clear understanding of what you expect from them. Have you provided them a Job Description? Do you have measurable objectives for them? How about training and support? Do they have all the tools necessary for them to perform their job at the expectation level you have established for them? Is there anything standing in their way and preventing them from meeting your expectations?

Whereas your gut instinct may be to go out and start by kicking some tail, you may just be surprised how often your employees will meet, or exceed, your expectations simply because they now understand what those expectations are.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be a need for additional steps in order to get the focus on to the results you are expecting; it just means don’t skip ahead to those steps before you start with the first step.

Once your employees are clearly aware of what you expect from them, now you can also make them aware of the ramifications they can expect if they are unable and/or unwilling to meet those expectations

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of accountability is “willingness to accept responsibility”. And, according to me, accountability starts with “A”.

Written by Jeff LaMott

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