July 23, 2018

Be Accountable? You Mean Everyone Else, Right?

Organizational Effectiveness

We’ve all had to work with people that don’t pull their weight. It can be extremely frustrating when your job is affected by the ineptitude of others, right? After all, if <insert random name here> were held accountable, you wouldn’t have any problems!

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, stop and think about it. Now, I’m not going to say other people don’t impact your performance. But I will say, accountability is not about blaming other people.

Defining Accountability

Reading from the dictionary is not always exciting, but, in this case, Webster hits the nail on the head. “Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.” Accountability is not about the task, project, or result. It’s about the individuals’ willingness to accept the role they play or played. Basically, it's the opposite of blame.

Where to Start

You may note nothing in that definition talks about other people. The focus is on your actions. As cheesy as it may sound, team accountability always starts with you. This is especially true if you are a manager or any form of leader at work.

Perhaps you think your team is not accountable enough, but, really, aren’t you accountable for your team? No one is going to want to be held accountable to someone they don’t feel holds themselves accountable. This is a time to lead by example.

Lead by Example

So what do you do to make yourself more accountable? First, you find someone to help you and hold you accountable. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that you have a 65% higher chance of completing your objectives if you committed to someone else.

Find a colleague to help you with your accountability endeavor. Find someone that you can trust that wants to help you grow. You should probably offer to do the same for them.

Start by:

  1. Making commitments

  2. Writing the commitments down

  3. Creating mini-goals

  4. Celebrating your success

  5. Reviewing your performance

  6. Seeking feedback

Practice Makes Perfect

Spend some time, at least a few months, focusing on doing this yourself. And then see if you still want to blame other people. Your opinion may change. You’ll want to help hold people accountable, not force accountability on them.

If you think your company would benefit from accountability training, let us know. We can tailor a curriculum to your specific needs and budget.

Related Reading

For some more in-depth content, check out our ebook:  The Ultimate Guide for Team Accountability.


Read the ultimate team accountability ebook


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Judy partners with executives and leadership teams to engage and inspire employees in a way that delivers sustainable strategic results. She brings deep expertise and creative ideas to solve organizational effectiveness issues and closely collaborates in a way that builds internal capabilities. Judy has spent over 25 years consulting in a variety of industries, bringing her expertise in behavior to a wide range of organizational issues including organizational behavior change, leadership, change management, culture and engagement.

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