To understand the importance of accountability, here is an example: take a group of basketball players and put them on their own in a friendly match. As there is on one watching and no one keeping score, you may well find that all sense and cohesion goes out the window. The center is up front and the small forward is off in the distance. The shooting guard is found chatting with the spectators.
Now bring in a referee onto the court who starts keeping score visibly. As most people would expect, the dynamics of the game will change instantly. Players would start playing positions they were assigned because now they are actually trying to perform well to win. The simple act of being observed and being held accountable for has made all the difference.
It is no different in the workplace setting. While holding people accountable certainly helps the business, it is only when accountability is made visible that real results are delivered.
As per the example, accountability was vaguely there with each player knowing their position and role, but it took a crowd of onlookers and a referee for them to start aiming for success in those roles. Employees at a business are much the same. With roles defined correctly, they will know what they need to do to succeed, but if their success is not marked or if the metrics are not visible or relevant, then accountability loses its impact.
When accountability is confusing or misapplied, consequences get watered down or never occur and people often miss the connection between results and recognition. Instead, reporting results to each other and holding each other accountable for achieving goals are key to successful execution.
Sticking to these basics (some may sound redundant but need emphasis at this stage) while holding your team accountable during the execution process:
Discuss and set up expectations: Clearly articulating expectation is not only mandatory but crucial to the organization’s success in setting up accountability. Think about the basketball players from the previous example. Knowing their position and role in the game holds them accountable for any mistakes or gains made in their area.
Look for input: Looking for input engages team members in achieving goals. It gives them a chance to determine what works and establishes a vivid understanding of expectations.
Actively coach the team: Accountability and coaching go hand in hand. You need to know of any issues that arise to keep your team mindful and answerable to any action that they take.
Hold regular strategy reviews: Such strategy reviews, or call it communication is important to holding the team liable during the execution phase. As each step of the way is reviewed, everyone’s performance becomes obvious and can give you a fairly predictable heads up on the progress of your strategy execution.