How to get your organization on board.
How the “Four A’s” of Accountability can lead your company to achieve greatness.
By Ron Correa
Creating accountability across an organization is a daunting task. The payoff is attractive: better productivity, greater customer satisfaction, and higher level of efficiency at every level of the organization. But to get there means facing the challenge of encouraging every member to be accountable for every action made.
I’ve been managing people all my professional life. I have found that accountability in my business – auto damage appraisal for the insurance industry – is essential for growth in every respect. I have found that systemic accountability requires not only clearly defining it but also engaging what I call the Four A’s of Accountability: Aligning, Acclimating, Appealing, and Articulating.
The “Four A’s” helps articulate a process of implementation:
This is an essential first step for leadership. Accountability across a team or organization is impossible if people are not oriented correctly on what they are to focus their attention and efforts. By aligning your development of accountability, you may generate focus your goals and offer a clear vision, clear direction, and clear goals.
The next step is establishing an emotional investment in the goal to make accountability a persistent culture within the organization. That means adopting persistence to stick with something even when others are ready to throw in the towel. It is saying, “I will be faithful, I will see this through to the end.” Without this level of personal commitment, your efforts will sputter and come to a stop.
Here’s where the persistence becomes truly personal – and you need total trust to achieve it. Everyone must be able to rely on the other members of your team to be totally accountable. In an organization, accountability cannot reside in only one person. It must reside in all members – from the very top to the very bottom. It creates a chain of mutual trust through our desire to be fully accountable.
Now comes the hard part for you – communicating and Articulating effectively about the metrics, about the progress, and as well the areas that need to be addressed. As the leader, you must consistently and persistently articulate the rules of accountability. You must recognize individuals and teams who are successful, offer examples of excellence, the progress made, and reward those behaviors.
The process – Aligning, Acclimating, Appealing, and Articulating – can be a transformational one. Through a shared vision and sense of direction, everyone in the organization has a blueprint for where the company is heading but also the major outcome that is sought. This allows everyone, no matter the professional training or function, to line up around the process and to take responsibility for the direction or mission.
The driver of the effort is leadership’s commitment to making systemic accountability a living reality. Are you and the people around you committed to the vision and goals of the organization? Are you demonstrating your commitment in your actions as well as your words? Are you asking for and gaining the commitment of others?
Very little of importance gets accomplished without teamwork, and the more engaged the team, the better the outcomes tend to be. Depending on the existing culture of the company, you may also try different ways to acculturate your people into this new expectation for systemic accountability. You may need to engage each individual with personal challenges that demonstrate their commitment. You may want to engage teams and ask them to set their own goals.
Success is only as good as your measurement system: what you measure and how you measure it. Without some understanding of scale and process for measuring progress, then the effort itself will fall apart.
By Aligning, Acclimating, Appealing, and Articulating the mission for better systemic accountability, you’ll have to set down rules for yourself as well as your employees. I have a few “remembers” for you to consider:
Remember to state your goals clearly. If they don’t know where they are supposed to be going, then how can they be accountable for achieving it? Clear goals are required at all levels since they are discrete ways of ensuring we stay on track and are making the requisite progress. The goals serve as benchmarks for the organization and for departments and individuals regarding performance and keeping commitments.
Remember that everyone – at all levels of the company – must be required to provide a positive role model for how to move along the process: to keep one’s word, to take personal responsibility, to maintain vision and goal focus.
Remember that this process won’t work unless the organization accepts responsibility for the entire process. Aligning alone will not create the necessary accountability. Acclimating is critical but won’t produce the desired effect unless every member is Appealing to each other for total compliance. And of course, Articulating this mission for accountability can’t work unless we’re all pulling together with persistence, trust, and commitment.
And Remember that regular feedback is the lifeblood of accountability, since it provides clear information on progress, offers recognition quickly and addresses deficits or problem behaviors or issues immediately. This develops trust and brings the vision to life in terms of the meaningfulness of the metrics being used.
Be constructive with positive input. Encourage people to offer ideas, positive suggestions, and solutions. When this process is blended with other methods of leadership, it may lead your organization to a robust and vital foundation for systemic accountability at all levels.