This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Accountability has never been as important as it is right now. Whether in board rooms in times of tight resource constraints or virtual team settings where progress is dependent on self-discipline and commitment, establishing accountability across a team is paramount for success within any organization.
Most leadership circles agree that accountability is one of the essential traits of any high-performing team. But if that’s true, then why is it that so many companies fail to establish a culture that nurtures accountable relationships?
Let’s consider what true accountability within a team requires.
Every company has a vision and mission built upon a foundation of values and core capabilities. Your company’s goals take two forms, generally speaking: quantitative goals (e.g., growth by X%, revenue/profit, operational KPIs) and qualitative goals (e.g., specific leadership traits and values). In an ideal world, these corporate-level, macro goals are broken down into department-level micro-goals and measured through regular performance reviews. For example, you might have a monthly performance meeting comparing forecasted goals vs. actual performance.
Though some departments have concrete and measurable goals, such as operations (on-time delivery, quality), business development (revenue growth, customer satisfaction) and purchasing (cost reduction, supplier performance), more horizontal departments such as corporate innovation, IT and HR can struggle with clear lines of accountability because their impact on the quantitative goals of the organization is less well defined or they may lack a sense of urgency. Regardless of which role you occupy within an organization, every employee should have an answer to the following questions:
Driving accountability is hard work. Establishing accountable relationships within your team requires years of experience grounded in trial and error, a whole lot of success and failure, and the ability to self-regulate one’s emotions. There are some key traits every leader must possess in order to get what they want from their team:
Confidence. As a leader, you need to understand your role and the ability of your department to meet overall objectives. You need to trust your skills and capabilities as well as the strengths of your team. For example, a team SWOT analysis can help to crystalize your core strengths, and you can confidently play into those strengths.
Communication. Whether speaking to team members or clients, you need to offer clear requests, commitments, agreements and deadlines in order to drive progress. Ambiguity can lead to miscommunication, resentment or worse.
Courage. Every leader needs to have the fortitude to have uncomfortable, difficult conversations. You need to instigate those crucial conversations when commitments are missed. Remain open to criticism, push through the discomfort of conflict and regulate fiery emotions in order to find the right solution. For instance, providing honest and specific feedback in a performance conversation is crucial for the development of an employee. Shying away from crucial feedback can be a selfish act, taking away the growth potential of an employee in exchange for the comfort of a manager.
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