As a leader, accountability (or lack thereof) can have a huge impact on how you grow and scale your business. It is one thing to plan for growth each quarter and lay out the steps needed to complete a certain task or project, but it requires a completely different skill set to take those steps and ensure that they get completed in the time allotted.
Over the past decade, I have helped thousands of business owners reach their goals by holding them accountable. And I want to share with you the seven elements of accountability.
Clean Handoffs: This element is one that many leaders think they are doing well, but in reality they struggle. Having a clean handoff of tasks and action items will ensure that they get done in a reasonable amount of time. After every meeting or project planning session, it is important to decide the following:
A. Who should do this task?
B. What exactly needs to be done?
C. By when?
D. To what standard?
E. And how will you "close the loop" so that everyone knows that the task is complete?
There is nothing worse than making an assumption only to find out two weeks later that the team member never picked up the task because the handoff wasn't clean.
Adequate Capability: Do you have the capability to do the task in question? You can give Lisa in accounting the task of updating your website, but if she doesn't have the skill set to finish the task it will be virtually impossible to hold her accountable and see that task to completion.
Adequate Motivation: Another element that affects your ability to finish a project or task has to do with your motivation. Does the task help you push the needle on the growth of your business? Once you understand the motivation behind the task, and why it's important, it is much easier to hold yourself accountable.
Adequate Resources: Another element that should be considered is resources. Make sure that your team members have the resources (e.g., technical setup) to do the task at hand.
Appropriate Visibility: A lack of visibility into your team's day-to-day activities can have an affect on their accountability. It is easy to let things slip through the cracks or go unnoticed if there isn't clear communication and updates among your team. Project management software is great for visibility and accountability among teams.
Managerial Follow-Through: This element goes hand in hand with many of the elements above. If there is a good handoff, motivation, and visibility, your chances of having a task finished to completion is much higher. As a manager, being there to check in on the task's progress will help a team member stay on task and stay focused.
Natural and Logical Consequences: What happens if a task doesn't get completed? What happens if it does? If a marketing campaign never gets launched, what would that look like for your company and for the employee in charge of the project? What would happen if a customer service issue is left unresolved? Natural and logical consequences will go a long way to helping you and your team stay accountable.
Now that you know the seven elements of accountability, I want you to stop for a moment and think about your own ability to follow through. Which elements do you struggle with? Which comes naturally to you? How about that of your executive team? Once you identify the areas that need improvement, you can focus on overcoming them and keeping yourself and your team on track.