Friday, December 9, 2022

8 Activities To Satisfy Your Boss You Are Accountable

Brainstorming over paper. Original public domain image from Wikimedia CommonsOne of the attributes that I often recommend to the business professionals and entrepreneurs I mentor is to always be totally accountable for your actions and ideas. I too often see people who are quick to make excuses, blame failures on peers or customers, or see management as the reason for their lack of productivity. Lack of accountability can permeate an entire organization.

In any business, accountability ideally starts at the top. For example, Howard Schultz at Starbucks was quick to accept accountability for a racial bias incident a few years ago in one of his stores in Philadelphia, and he shut down all his stores for an anti-bias training session, rather than try to blame a single store employee or overall cultural conditions.

Of course, at all levels of an organization or business, there are opportunities for accountability that can make or break your career or your leadership perception in the eyes of others. Here are my key recommendations for how to prepare and what to do in more mundane business environments and organizations:

  1. Make sure your activities are aligned with business goals. Personal accountability must be aligned with business requirements, or your performance will never be appreciated. The same is true with team goals and expectations. In other words, accountability has to lead to win-win outcomes for maximum business and career value.

    In my experience, developers can be so committed to a technology, such as hydrogen engines for cars, such that they may be unwilling to change as the business pivots for market reasons. In this context, accountability for a successful engine will never happen.

  2. Document plans and progress, with checkpoints. To the best of your ability, make sure that all accountability assessments are based on actual facts, rather than emotions and dreams. Make sure you set the expectations and responsibilities, and measure your results. Don’t expect your manager and other leaders to always see your contributions.

    Accountability requires that you manage your own efforts, as well as keep others up to speed. Don’t allow yourself to get focused on a specific task, at the expense of other work. Setting your own metrics, and measuring yourself, will facilitate accountability.

  3. Communicate ongoing needs and changes early. None of us can be accountable if we don’t know what is expected, or don’t have the required tools or training. It is up to you to communicate your needs and expectations clearly, before and during every assignment, rather than after a failure. Don’t pretend or actually be the victim.

  4. Generously give credit to others where credit is due. Don’t be reluctant to recognize the contribution of others to positive results that you are accountable for. Also, it helps to work collaboratively with your team and other teams in the organization. Recognize that some decisions and control have to be delegated in complex business organizations.

  5. Provide continuous improvement feedback to all. Accountable people always provide positive feedback to all concerned, without assigning blame or breaking relationships. Your goal should always be continuous learning and improvement. We all need feedback on what was done well, and what changes are proposed for the next time.

  6. Be available for mentoring and coaching to others. Accountability means a willingness to accept responsibility for sharing what you know with others on the team and helping them find and use the tools they need to complete the job. It also means investing in relationship and trust building so they support you in a time of your need.

  7. Be a proactive role model for team accountability. Don’t wait for someone else to lead the way in accepting responsibility for team results. Show them the way by being willing to declare positive accountability before being forced into a corner, or taking a defensive posture. You may find that your team, and your management, quickly rallies for you.

  8. Look at work assignments from a management perspective. Practice empathy by stepping aside to look at your work as other people see it. You have to be accountable to their expectations, as well as your own. Ask for the insights of peers and other leaders, and really listen to their perspectives without being judgmental, emotional, or defensive.

In all cases, these strategies to improve your ability to be accountable will also improve your personal ability to be productive and feel real satisfaction from your work. The business will thrive from the things you get done, and the learning it gains, including from your failures. The result is a win-win situation for everyone, even in today’s fast-moving and rapidly changing environment.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 11/24/2022 ***



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