Accountability Drives Commitment And Performance

Posted by Rick DeMarco on 25 June 2015

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Commitment and accountability go hand in hand. In order to have a culture of high engagement and performance, all team members need to be accountable to each other. Notice I said ALL team members. Whether in a leadership role or not, everyone on a team must be accountable to each other for their part in achieving the vision, strategy, goals, and objectives. The greatest attribute of effective leadership is leading by example. To create an inspired and engaged workforce, leaders must be willing to be held accountable to those they lead, while holding others accountable for their commitments.

Think of the power of accountability. Have you ever been part of a team that had regular progress reports during which participants would be required to update the rest of the team on their work? Just the anticipation of standing in front of your peers and managers strikes terror in the hearts of those who have not done what they were supposed to do. Not that I am presuming that we wouldn’t do our job anyway, but strong accountability adds a higher level of pressure that drives commitment and performance. As an example outside of the workplace, think about the success of Weight Watchers. Their ability to help their customers lose weight is driven largely by the requirement to report your weight on a regular basis to others and be held accountable for your results.

So exactly how is accountability established? It cannot be just a word we use to define culture or values. There really is a formality to a strong culture of accountability that in turn, drives a strong culture of engagement. For teams working on a project, accountability is formalized in weekly progress reports. For behavior change, accountability is formalized by inviting someone to be your accountability partner.  Serving as someone’s accountability partner is not a self-appointment. You must be invited into that role. So what are the requirements for accountability partners?

  1. They must be someone that you trust
  2. They will tell you things you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear
  3. They always have your best interest at heart and that of the team
  4. They have the courage to challenge you and push you to honor your commitments

To be clear, there is a difference between your manager and an accountability partner. Managers have the power to make decisions based on your performance. Accountability partners only have the power that you grant them to help you honor your commitments and change your behavior.

Highly engaged and high performing organizations ensure that all team members AND leaders have an individual or group of individuals holding them accountable for their performance. This accountability is critical in ensuring that the company’s vision, strategy and objectives are reached.

Bring your team together and discuss the traits of accountability and the best way to establish constructive feedback through dialogue and establishing a trusting environment. You’ll see, it will have an immediate impact on performance, morale and employee engagement.

If you would like to discuss ways to improve accountability and performance let us know. We’d be happy to talk to you.