Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for your actions. How seriously have you considered your words as a commitment to someone? As a society we have become very loose with words. We over-exaggerate, use meaningless hyperbole, and commit to things that are not even within our control. The result is that trust of our leaders, colleagues, friends and even family members is diminished, so much so that we often are surprised when others to follow through with their pledges.
In our organizations, how often to you hear the phrases like, “whatever you need, just let me know,” or “I’ve got your back,” or “we all support each other here,” or “I’ll take care of that.” Don’t get me wrong, there are good intentions behind each of the phrases. People want to feel helpful and altruistic, but it is easier said than done.
The result however, is that we don’t really expect people to follow through. We don’t trust the words that they say. We become cynical and callused.
What if we could change all of that? What if we held ourselves accountable for our words and our actions? If each of us took our words seriously and followed through on our commitments, large and small, what a better world it would be?
A few months ago I heard a key note speaker, Alex Sheen, at The HR Southwest Conference. Alex is the founder of because I said I would. because I said I would. is a social phenomenon that, in my opinion, takes accountability to its highest form. because I said I would. created the Promise Cards to help hold people accountable to their commitments. You write down your promise and give it to someone; they give you the card back once you have fulfilled that promise.
because I said I would. listed accountability in its 7 Elements of Honor, character values to live up to. “I must be willing to accept personal responsibility for what I have done and what I have failed to do – both in what is good and what is not. Accountability helps me understand that my decisions have consequences. I help hold others accountable, but before I become too upset with the broken promises of others, I remember that I too have weakness.”
There are two simple ideas here: 1) take personal responsibility for your actions, and 2) don’t be too quick to judge others.
You say that is a little ‘touchy-feely’ for business. Think about this, when was the last time that you had a hand-shake agreement. What did that handshake mean? Did you trust that the other party would follow through? Did the other person trust you to follow through? Why don’t we have more handshake agreements anymore?
We must judge our staffs’ performance and determine who are performing their duties to standard; who are meeting goals and expectations, their commitments. But, before you impose negative consequences and hold others accountable for their goal attainment ask yourself, “Have I, up held my commitment as a leader. Take a moment to reflect on how well you prepared your staff? Did you convey all necessary information, training, tools, coaching or flexibility for your staff to be fully capable and prepared to perform successfully?
We live in a world that moves rapidly. Margins are tight which increases pressure to have your staff be fully functional and productive in a very short period of time. This is even more reason to hold yourself accountable to ensure that your staff is fully prepared. Do it because you said you would.
When you model accountability your staff will grow to trust you. They will then be more likely to follow your example. Once the paradigm has shifted to a culture of accountability and trust you will see a pattern of support and respect for each other. The by-product of this healthy culture is increased productivity and quality.
Susan D. Word is the Director of People 1st at Invenio Solutions, an award winning outsourced sales company based in Austin, Texas. Invenio Solutions strives to nurture a culture of accountability throughout the organization. For more information on becoming an Inveniologist, go to https://www.inveniomarketing.com/work-for-us/.