Instilling a Culture of Accountability

June 29, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

When I am asked by coaching clients about how to instill a culture of accountability, questions pop into my mind related to the kind of culture that exists without it. When accountability is at issue, it almost always suggests that the culture is not committed to high performance. Commitment and alignment around shared beliefs is critical to success and sustainability in an organization. When Managers are not accountable by their senior leaders, it sends a message down the org chart, either directly or indirectly, that a lack of accountability is acceptable. Employees perceive this and mirror what they see. It’s one of the reasons why senior leaders need to not only be aligned themselves, but need to act and speak consistently so that employees across the organization understand what the expected level of performance is for everyone. Particularly in this challenging economy, employees want more than ever to understand what is expected of them; want to be rewarded for delivering on those expectations and want to stay in organizations that give them the chance to contribute in a meaningful way.

For leadership to instill accountability, start early to establish the standards. This needs to happen before problems occur and it involves being open to feedback, embody a willingness to face problems, taking ownership, problem solving, and proactive follow-up. Actively engaged employees thrive on being measured; they embody accountability, while actively disengaged employees shy away from accountability because they truly do not want to be measured.

In the book Journey to the Emerald City, Authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith outline the means to create a culture of accountability. Their methodology, which can be used for any culture change, consists of the following steps:

1. Define clear results within your organization
2. Define the actions required to achieve the results
3. Identify the beliefs that produce these actions
4. Create experiences that instill the right beliefs

The book gives a lot more details, checklists, and tools to lead a group through these steps. This important work is best done when employees are invited to commit to the results they are expected to achieve and they understand the linkage between the evaluation of their performance and associated consequences of not meeting to the standard. Since all employees would be held to the same objectives, it invokes a universal appreciation of what needs to be done.

Debra Desmond is a certified executive coach, frequent public speaker and professional facilitator. Executives who have worked with Debra solved problems by strengthening their emotional intelligence competencies, built and repaired relationships, established priorities, dealt with burnout, made career transitions, and achieved their most sought after goals.

Debra’s experience in Human Resource management roles established what she is known. Her long standing career in executive search within healthcare and the petroleum industries fine-tuned her client orientation, relationship building expertise.

Debra is certified executive coach from the Behavioral Coaching Institute, she holds a Masters degree in HR from Loyola University Chicago, certified administrator in DISC assessments and MBTI instruments, To learn more about Debra, her practice and the ways she has added value to her corporate and individual clients, visit her website:

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Debra Desmond - EzineArticles Expert Author

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