In a well-managed and well-led organisation, a culture of accountability permeates the business. Each individual, each team, each profit centre is responsible for their success.
What are the characteristics of an accountable business?
1. Accountability starts at the top.
a) The business leader does not allow un-kept promises, CYA, excuses and denial in him or herself or in the leadership team. Senior leaders who do not perform are dealt with directly; they are not promoted, and they are not “kicked upstairs” to useless and bureaucratic staff positions.
b) The business leader is acutely aware that most businesses fail due to the errors of management.
2. Accountability continues with the individual employee, manager, and leader.
a) Each individual does what he or she says. Each individual takes ownership for his or her results.
3. This accountability is pervasive throughout the organisation and not just on the front lines.
a) Managers and staff people are as accountable as those in line positions. There is accountability even in those areas where metrics are not as easily measured and the results of the individual’s actions are not as direct and immediate.
4. The goals and objectives for each individual in the organisation are simple and clear.
a) Napoleon once said that orders need to be so simple that they cannot be misunderstood. Likewise, for each employee, their goals and objectives are crystal clear and front of mind.
5. Management continues to follow up and evaluate employee progress towards the goals and objectives.
a) The fundamental management skill of “following up” is pervasive and consistent over time, ensuring that everything is on track with help provided when there are problems and issues.
6. There are consequences for those that lack accountability and do not perform
a) If, after working with the individual, the person is still unable to carry his or her own weight, then the accountable organisation confronts the problem and finds someone who can perform.
7. The organisation is fairer and more of a meritocracy.
a) Since performance is required and non-performance has consequences, there is less chance for favoritism, nepotism and other morale-sapping business practices. The good employees are not over-burdened picking up after the laggards, who do not pull their own weight.
8. The organisation is leaner and simpler.
a) Bureaucracy and layers have not been added to keep tabs over employees and pound on them to do what they should be doing anyway. As such, the organisation and business processes are simpler with a significant reduction in meetings, reports, reviews, etc.
b) There is less, but more focused activity. Growth initiatives and profit improvement initiatives are undertaken to move the business forward and not as a new program to substitute for the lack of accountability currently in the business.
9. But, the well-run accountable organisation is not a “lean and mean” metric-driven organisation
a) New ideas and risk-taking are encouraged and are rewarded even if that means missing a previously agreed to metric.
b) An organisation that is single minded ly focused on accountability to metrics and numbers will become sub-optimal because the focus will be on the metrics not on making the business better.
10. In the accountable organisation, each employee is respected as being an integral part of a winning team
a) The accountability does not come at the expense of listening to and profiting from the insights of the employees. Feedback loops exist to ensure that the goals and objectives continue to make sense. If not, they are changed.
b) The employees that are always accountable are thanked and recognised. They may have done nothing “heroic” except to do exactly what they are asked to do day in and day out. In the accountable organisation, such performance is nonetheless appreciated and valued.
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