Getting things done effectively in a startup requires total individual and team accountability. You can’t afford excuses and multiple people doing the same job.
In my view, “taking responsibility” is the core element behind accountability. Many people hear responsibility as an obligation, but I hear it as “the ability to respond.”
Unfortunately many people don’t have the ability to respond, because they lack confidence in themselves, or simply don’t have the skills required.
Therefore, an entrepreneur’s first requirement is to hire or team only with people who are accountable (already have the confidence and skills you need) — training them on the job is prohibitively expensive when you have minimal income.
Even with the best people, accountability must be nurtured, since it can be killed more quickly than it can be grown. Here are some characteristics of business leaders who foster accountability, and keep it growing.
Click here to see how to foster team accountability >
Martin Zwilling is CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc.; he also serves as Board Member and Executive in Residence at Callaman Ventures and is an advisory board member for multiple startups. This post was originally published on his blog, and it is republished here with permission.
Goals and objectives must be unchanging and measurable, based on results, with benchmarks for comparisons.
Accountability assessments must be based on facts, not distorted by opinions, politics, and desire for power.
Frequently changing expectations does not lead to accountability.
A sense of responsibility and accountability requires a sense of control.
If several levels of approvals are needed for a specific decision, no one will feel accountable, and no one can be held accountable. Real delegation is required.
If key inputs are not under the control of the proper group, then they will cede accountability as well.
If your sales group is measured on profitability, but is required to process leads from outside sources paid by volume, you have a conflict where everyone loses.
You need to be the sponsor and the advocate for every member of your team.
Team members who take risks through accountability need to see your overt support up the line, with no blame and no scapegoats.
High performance teams need immediate and useful information on how to improve, as well as regular full performance reviews, individually and as a group.
Help people, including yourself, look in the mirror and see reality.
No tools and no data lead to total subjectivity and biased interpretations. Absolute dependence on tools leads to abdication of personal responsibility.
Provide adequate tools, but trust the people.
Accountability is hard, so no one is entitled to be right every time.
Don't punish people for making a mistake, but make it clear the mistakes have consequences, sometimes painful ones, that we all have to live with. Higher responsibility means more work and more skills needed.
Many executives subscribe to the misguided notion that you can hold people accountable. This is usually a ploy to control others and hand off responsibility, without being accountable yourself.
People need to make themselves accountable, and accept the consequences of their actions. Remember that you are the model, and what goes around, comes around.
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