One of the most frequent complaints I hear is the lack of accountability throughout organisations. Often, these complaints come from the lower management and below on the org chart. Having a low level of accountability in a business creates broad problems and can stifle productivity, innovation and improvement. In essence the organisation cannot operate effectively whilst this problem exists. It’s not only those directly involved with the action who suffer though, operations upstream, downstream and even in parallel streams suffer.
So why is accountability so difficult to get right? There are many reasons; a couple of the main are:
1) Poor performance monitoring.
To be accountable there must be an action or task to be held accountable to. Too often I see these actions constructed in a way which makes them difficult to measure progress or performance effectively. Just as often I see a good action setup with poor measures or indicators attached. Both of these are caused by ineffective planning.
More frustrating, and thankfully less frequent, I see good planning in place without effective use of the measured data. The quote “What gets measured, gets managed” (Peter Drucker) is one of my favourite quotes, and it’s almost perfect. Unfortunately I’ve noticed people using this quote to say “it’s getting measured, so it must be managed” NO! It’s not automatic! The data must be used in the management process.
2) Poor management and leadership
I won’t go into the management vs leadership discussion here but I will point out that there are too many managers lacking effective people management skills. Challenging your staff, holding them accountable is a positive management task. If this is practised consistently without exception your team and those around yours will be higher performing, more efficient, more effective and will have a higher morale.
Simple rule to accountability: Be consistent and don’t overcomplicate it.