Successful teams cannot exist without accountability – high performance and accountability go hand-in-hand.—Henry J. Evans

It’s no surprise that levels of accountability impact results.  This includes not only ensuring you’re accountable for your own actions (or lack of), but that we also hold others accountable for what was agreed upon.

A true leader builds a culture where accountability and responsibility are the “norm”. There’s no fear of repercussions (bad reviews, stifled career growth, or a sense of failure). When someone is truly accountable they have no issue owning and learning from their mistakes, as well as celebrating their successes.

In addition to the leader/boss, in healthy teams, colleagues have the trust needed to address tasks, deliverables and deadlines that may be at risk. This is not easy, and to be clear, finger pointing is not how issues are addressed! Rather it’s identifying what desired results could be at risk and assessing if changes need to be made. Let’s face it, not everything goes as planned.

When issues arise, it’s great to ask questions like “how can I help” and “what could be done help us get back on track”.  Avoid the “Who” and “Why” questions as they cause defensiveness and may appear as a want to place blame.

John Miller, author of the QBQ shares that BLAME is to be avoided as it:

  • Indicts people
  • Destroys morale
  • Reduces creativity
  • Lowers productivity
  • Increases fear
  • Drives wedges between colleagues
  • Breaks down teams

So, what can we do to improve accountability?

  • Be specific about each commitment and associated time-frames
  • Seek clarity if a task or assignment is vague
  • Ensure those involved understand their role and obtain their buy-in
  • Communicate any changes that could impact what was agreed upon
  • Promptly address any behavior or action that could negatively impact desired results
  • Conduct regular check-ins; is everything on track? (based on the desired results, you’ll need to determine if “regular” means daily, weekly, monthly, etc)

It’s up to each of us to hold ourselves accountable and fulfill our commitments, and it’s also up to us to help others realize when their actions (or lack of) impact results.

Nothing gets fixed when we are fixated on who’s at fault.—John G. Miller