High-performing teams and organizations don’t just happen. It requires the dedicated efforts of leadership to articulate a clear mission, vision, and a value statement that resonates with the staff. That message must then be communicated to the teams in a way that allows them to see how their efforts will directly impact the success of the organization through their collective efforts. It requires accountability.
Accountability is often viewed as a tool for punishment. This is often due to a flaw in the delivery style of inexperienced leaders. Accountability can, and should, be a shared tool to help move an organization from where it is to where it wants to go.
While it is important for employees to understand the effects their behavior has on the company’s performance, it is even more important for them to see a direct correlation on how their behavior impacts their career. For instance, if an employee believes that by making the company successful, there will be more advancement opportunities, and the employees believe they will be treated fairly in the process for promotions, they will be more motivated to perform better.
In contrast, if the employee is just told that a behavior is undesirable and not to do it again, that will be the focus. This punitive approach, in the name of accountability, is now a detriment to the otherwise motivated employee. This type of interaction often leads an employee to feel deflated and defeated. In contrast, when delivering corrective action, if the focus is to encourage the employee to perform better under the circumstances and prepare this employee for future opportunities, employees are likely to feel like they have a path to success. Accountability aligns their behavior with the collective success of the organization.
Executing a highly engaged culture requires the right leaders in the right positions. These leaders must share and model the organization’s values. While it is great to have a superstar, it is even better to have someone who can inspire and motivate a team to work together to build a culture of accountability. A leader who brings a high level of emotional intelligence, communicates well, and demonstrates respect will create and nurture a cohesive and thriving team. They will be enthused by the correlation between their efforts and the success of the organization.
For teams to have true accountability, there must first be trust. Employees need to feel safe when addressing their development needs so that this information will not hold them back but build them up. A mistake should be viewed as an opportunity to embrace a new approach. It is important to ensure that mistakes are not held over the heads of employees who have been given an opportunity to correct their behavior unless the undesirable behavior reoccurs.
Employees should feel confident that they will have the support of their leaders to develop new skills and abilities. They should be provided with the tools to set them up for success, rather than simply told how to avoid bad behavior. At that point, it will then be their choice to accept the corrective feedback or choose to reject the opportunity for improvement.
The bottom line is that having a high degree of accountability requires that you demonstrate care and concern for the employee and acknowledge that errors are expected. We have a way to help a person get back to a path of success.
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