In every team, organization, and business the successful understand the importance of accountability.
In sports one of my favorite examples of accountability is Bill Belichick’s coaching style with the New England Patriots. If you boil it all down his mantra of “Do your job” is a great example of accountability. Each team member is accountable to themselves and their teammates to do their job, and do it well. It’s hard to argue with the success of the New England Patriots franchise under Coach Belichick’s leadership.
So how do business leaders take such a simple notion as “Do your job” and apply it in an arena where they are sometimes understaffed, possibly lacking talent, and influenced by many factors? Consider these examples of team members ‘doing their job.’ A sales executive is supporting their client as field engineer, customer service representative, material planner, etc… The VP of Engineering is required to fly cross country on short notice to sell a project due to poor planning. A business owner is sweeping the floor and taking out the trash despite her cleaning team being scheduled for the night before. Are they all doing their job? I would argue absolutely they are, but are they holding others accountable to do their job?
In each of these examples the job is getting done and the business will be better for their efforts. Would the business be better served if other team members were accountable for their role in the company? The simplest example is the owner cleaning up when she arrived to work this morning. This is the 3rd time in the last month her cleaning team missed an appointment. What will need to happen for the owner to either hold her cleaning team accountable or set the stage for their possible replacement?
To drive accountability there are 3 components which must be developed between the team.
The first component to building accountability is for the team to have a high level of trust. Without trust a simple question meant to provide an accountability check between team members can feel like an attack. Unhealthy conflict arises due to the “attack” instead of a positive conversation to move business forward. Trust is necessary to allow any team to engage in conflict around ideas, and conflict occurs on all teams. Trust will determine if the conflict has a positive or negative impact on the team.
Another key to allowing teams to hold each other accountable is understanding. The team must understand the objective (big or small) they are pursuing. To support understanding the team must develop and connect with the expectations of them. Then they must decide to meet these expectations. With the decision to accept the expectations there is now an understanding of what the team will be held accountable for.
A team plan is built from their commitment to partner to reach a common goal. Stronger commitments are built when there is an understanding to work from. Once the team is committed the need for communication increases. The team plan will require communication to allow a team to refresh their expectations, capture changes, and share status updates with other stakeholders. The best plans are supported by team commitment and great communications.
Trust + Understanding + Plan = Accelerated Accountability
This equation represents the simplified components which allow your team to hold each other accountable. It is one I’ve used as a sales executive and coach for years.
“Do your job” is a simple mantra and it works, but you are most likely not striving for a Super Bowl ring and the bonus check it delivers. However, it would be nice to not have to sweep up and take out the trash first thing in the morning…
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on accountability in the comments section.