Every year, I talk to thousands of business owners across the country in various industries. Their pain points and problems may vary greatly, but there is one thing they have in common: a lack of accountability.
The majority of business owners don't have a formal process to hold themselves and their team accountable, and it limits their ability to grow and scale. That said, I want to share a few things that you can do to help increase accountability within your business.
Hold Yourself Accountable First
A lot of business owners I work with know that accountability is a big factor in their lack of growth, but they are quick to push the blame onto their team members. For example, if only the marketing department had met their deadline for that new campaign. Or, if only the website team had finished that new site in time. While that does play a part, accountability within your organization needs to start at the top, and you want to look at it from two angles.
First, look at what you are promising and what you are actually able to deliver. I call these phantom deliverables. If you aren't able to commit to a task or project, clearly state that to the rest of your team. As a leader, you need to exhibit great communication by making any phantom deliverables you see come out of a meeting explicit. That way, if you can commit to that deliverable, you do so, and if you can't, you clarify that you are not committing to it. Once you make this a habit, you will see that your team will quickly follow suit.
The next thing you want to look at is how you deal with missed deadlines. If you do find yourself missing a deadline, own it. Do you make excuses? Sweep it under the rug? Melodramatically beat yourself up? Or do you take ownership and share that mistake with your team, and learn from it together as a group?
If you find yourself struggling to meet deadlines consistently, seek help from outside sources. You might consider hiring a business coach, finding a mentor, or using project management tools like Asana or Trello to help keep you on track.
Be Clear on What Is Expected From the Team
Once you have a handle on your own accountability, it's time to work with your team on theirs. Begin by getting clear on the execution pieces after meetings. Take notes and share with your team all action items and deliverables afterward. This will prevent messy handoffs and missed deadlines.
Another great way to hold your team accountable is through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs). Get clear with your team early on about what are the most important indicators to track and pay attention to and it will help your team stay focused.
For instance, let's say that your marketing team is starting a new campaign and you want them to pay attention to leads, appointments set, and appointments held. You ask that they report KPIs to your team during the weekly meeting to track progress and make adjustments as needed. Not only will this help keep the department looking at the right information, but a delayed start to the project will become very obvious when the department has no numbers to share in your weekly huddle.
Accountability is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Choices you make as a leader make a difference, and every day and every project is another opportunity to make accountability a part of your company culture.