Continuous Improvement, Lean Management, Seven Habits, Six Sigma, Five Whatever…
All of these are good concepts aimed to improve results, instill greater productivity or profitability. Unfortunately, most of those processes ended up in three ringed binders that were put on the shelf until the next new process came along because the last one didn’t work. Sometimes the leadership in organizations becomes mesmerized by that shiny object, caught in the lure that this process will really get the organization in shape and position it for the future.
Employees on the other hand, translate the “next big thing” as “Flavor of the Month.” They work under the assumption that if they ride it out and go through the motions, management will get bored and it will go away and they won’t have to change. After all, by playing it safe and “going along” they don’t become career road-kill when the shiny new process becomes unpopular or doesn’t succeed.
Unfortunately, accountability hasn’t been considered the “next big idea” because it’s not “flashy.” There are no “bragging rights” about implementing an accountability process. After all, accountability means people would need to change. And who wants to be accountable if it means having to personally change?
Lack of Accountability Leads to Loss. On the other hand, we’ve seen what happens when there’s no accountability for leading people or processes:
- The BP oil spill; the General Motors ignition switch fiasco…
- Bernie Madoff, bailouts and industries collapsing…
- Product recalls, contaminated foods, greed, waste and excess.
It’s easy to recognize a lack of accountability in other organizations, but every organization has their own version of excess, sacred cows or lack of oversight. When things don’t work, it’s usually due to a lack of ownership or accountability for the decisions that led to those results. Whether it’s lost customers, loss of market share or crummy service or employee disengagement, someone was making decisions or communicating information that resulted in those losses. It can be a lack of decision-making or poor communication that creates the loss. But the bottom line is someone is not being accountable for their words or actions.
Reviving Fundamentals Not Magic Formulas: Somehow we’ve lost sight of the basics. The New Normal is about reviving some fundamental principles, such as, people are accountable to do the work for which they are hired. Whether it’s a management position or not, it doesn’t make any difference, you are accountable.
It’s about having clarity about expectations and following through. When a person accepts a job, there’s an implied agreement to perform the work for which they are hired. If a person says they didn’t know what was expected, why did they accept the job?
Sometimes it’s easy to blame the boss for not explaining what’s expected or for not providing training to do parts of the job but that’s not a good excuse to slack off. If you don’t know what you are supposed to do, why don’t you ask? What are you waiting for? There’s no magic formula for success. It’s really very simple: Success comes from being accountable for your thoughts, words and actions .
A Manager’s Best Friend: Job Descriptions: Job descriptions are a manager’s best tool in the toolbox for successful management and leadership. They are a great place to start The New Normal for Accountability. Collectively, job descriptions reflect how work flows within a department and throughout an organization and what each position is accountable for doing.
Individually, they can be used to hire, train, evaluate and coach employees.
That’s why it’s important to have accurate job descriptions. They will reflect the major accountabilities of each position and why the position is integral to the success of the organization. It’s not “flashy” – but it works.
If you can’t explain why the position is important, or how it serves your customers, then maybe it’s not critical to the success of the organization. The accountabilities should be congruent, or a logical grouping of activities for the incumbent to perform. Make sure the job description fits the needs of the organization and your customers, and is not written to match an employee’s skills.
Next Blog: Four Easy Steps to Holding People Accountable
Marty Stanley is a national speaker and consultant on organizational change. Her new book From Type A to Type T: How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom Line World will be released this spring.
Call or contact Marty today if you’d like help creating a culture of accountability. 816-695-5453Martystanley@alteringoutcomes.com