A conference board survey revealed that over half the U.S. workforce does not feel engaged at all. The results of this survey reported job satisfaction at 45 percent, its lowest level since 1987. In addition, 64 percent of employees under age twenty-five expressed dissatisfaction with their jobs. Getting people engaged in their work so that they invest in and take personal ownership of the results you need to achieve is a fundamental management imperative.
When leaders and managers hold people accountable the wrong way, they experience what we call The Accountability Paradox. That is, the harder you try and hold someone accountable, the less accountable they become, resulting in negative accountability connections and poor results.
Assess Your Accountability Connections®
- You visibly detect the other person's frustration during your conversations.
- You note that they tend to offer excuses even before you get into the subject.
- You hear virtually no positive feedback about their working relationship with you.
- You recognize that they talk freely when things are going well and clam up when things are going poorly.
- You can tell they are avoiding you.
- You wait in vain for a proactive report on their progress.
- You find that your conversations with them usually focus on what's not working.
If you detect three or more of these clues, then, no matter how positively someone may claim they feel about their connection with you, it more than likely hinders your ability to hold them accountable.
(Under 60 secs.)Comments on the challenges people face when holding others accountable.
The Expectations Chain®
Which Way Does Your Accountability Current Flow?
An Accountability Current flows in every organization, and through every Expectations Chain. The current is the directional flow of accountability and identifies where the accountability originates and the direction it moves. That flow can be either top-down or bottom-up; that is, accountability may either flow from you or toward you. You know you have really harnessed the power of accountability when the current flows toward you. That means people in the Expectations Chain (which, for an organizational leader, includes the entire organization) take accountability for fulfilling Key Expectations and take action on their own initiative and with their own energy and effort, to report back, report in, raise issues, resolve problems, and, in general, make things happen.
Directions:Answer True or False to the following statements:
People generally do not report on their progress unless you ask them to do so?
You focus on "Holding people accountable," as opposed to getting them to "Take accountability."
When problems arise, people do not move forward without your involvement.
You often feel as if only you are fully accountable to do whatever it takes to make things happen.
You must constantly follow up with everyone to make sure the right things happen.
Scoring:Determine the direction of the Accountability Current in your organization by awarding yourself three points for every "True" statement and one point for every "False" statement. Use the table below to interpret your score.
Please answer all questions
9 to 15 Points
A top-down Accountability Current most likely flows through your Expectations Chain. This means that you are probably working harder than you should to get the benefits of accountability and will get "More for less" by changing the flow's direction.
5 to 8 Points
A bottom-up Accountability Current probably flows through your Expectations Chain. You have effectively created a culture where people take accountability. Your long-term success will depend on sustaining this culture.
In today's environment, business moves so rapidly and information comes so quickly that you need an effective approach that propels the people throughout your Expectations Chain to become invested, proactive, resourceful, accurate, quick, and creative in helping you achieve the results you need to deliver.
The Three Axioms of Holding Others Accountable
You form an Accountability Connection® with everyone you hold accountable. That connection can be either positive or negative. Every Accountability Conversation® you have with them perpetuates either that positive or negative connection. The nature of your connection impacts your ability to hold them accountable. Here are some clues for detecting a negative connection:
The Accountability Fallacy
The first of these axioms, the Accountability Fallacy, captures a common mistake people make when they assume that others fail to follow through because there is something wrong with them. This false assumption comes easily to most of us because we so clearly see the evidence that convicts the culprits of not caring enough or not working hard enough to get the job done the way we expect them to get it done. Basically, we assume people to be guilty until proven innocent. When leaders fall prey to the Accountability Fallacy, they not only assume that their people are flawed, but that they themselves can do little or nothing to change those flaws except punish people for having them. Real accountability always requires us to begin by looking at ourselves for anything that might be missing.
The Accountability Assumption
The second axiom, the Accountability Assumption, dictates that you should always begin with the assumption that, in any given circumstance, people are doing their very best to fulfill your expectations. This assumption, consistently applied, will start the whole journey toward holding others accountable on a positive and principled track. Whenever you begin by assuming the worst in others, you will most likely see their worst behavior (not to mention your own) emerge. The Accountability Assumption allows you to begin with the view that people want things to work just as much as you do and that they are doing all they can to make that happen. This approach not only brings out the best in you, but, with some rare exceptions, it accurately reflects the truth about the people with whom you work.
The Accountability Truth
Under all of this lies the third and final axiom, the Accountability Truth, which provides a more effective way of looking at the problem when people fail to follow through and deliver on expectations. By "Truth," we simply mean that when things go wrong, there is usually something wrong with what "I" am doing. When you embrace this principle, you take control of future outcomes and internalize the continual need to improve your effectiveness with respect to holding others accountable. Thinking and behaving this way produces better results. You become more proficient at getting things done through others. When you see yourself as part of the problem, you empower yourself to join the team that will do whatever it takes to solve it.
Accountability, done effectively, is a skill you can develop just like any other skill, and while it is not a difficult skill to acquire and hone, it does require a high degree of conscious effort. When you do it right, you'll also find it the fastest way to improve morale. The Partners In Leadership Others Track Training Training helps you do just that—hold others accountable in a way that is positive and principled and that yields results.
"I believe that we will be able to utilize these tools to help us better achieve accountability in our organization."
"As a result of focus on the Principles and feedback sessions, we have seen projects running more smoothly, improved communication and we have actually beat milestone dates in some cases!"
"Partners In Leadership helped provide our company with the tools necessary to make significant changes in key areas within our organization. Through helping us create a greater awareness of the importance of accountability in the workplace, and through helping us improve our customer service practices, Partners In Leadership has made a difference where it matter most; our bottom line."
"Your entire Partners In Leadership team should be congratulated for the tremendous efforts they put forth this past year in assisting us in "finding our way". Nicely done."