When corporate leaders discover organizational performance gaps, their first instinct is often to strategize ways to bridge those gaps in the short-term -- they'll start by reappointing managerial duties, funneling additional resources into a floundering project, or firing and hiring new people, for example.
Unfortunately, this approach is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound -- it may temporarily stop the bleeding, but it fails to address the underlying cause. While poor performance may appear to be the result of inadequate resource allocation or faulty leadership, these apparent 'causes' are actually symptomatic of a deeper problem: a lack of accountability in the workplace.
One of the most strategic moves leaders can make is ensuring that their workforces are trained in the positive practices of accountability -- the personal choice to rise above one's circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.
Mindset management is the newest trend that every leader needs in their leadership toolbox. So how can leaders manage mindsets in a way that promotes greater performance? Start by surveying performance gaps in these 5 critical areas -- the hallmarks of high-performing organizations:
1. Accelerated Speed to Market
Today, 72% of executives believe their business model will be under threat within the next five years. With the rise of cloud-based technologies, decentralized currencies, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), organizations that can deliver innovation at speed have a competitive advantage.
In a landscape where every company feels heightened pressure to continually optimize operations and introduce new products and services to consumers quickly, the level of accountability in your workforce determines speed to market. Highly accountable employees come together to form innovative, high-performing teams that deliver on their promises. These teams consistently succeed because they identify problems early, take psychological ownership of these problems, and collaborate to develop creative solutions and achieve desired results.
2. Deepened Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is defined by an employee's personal commitment to an organization and the achievement of its topline objectives. Unfortunately, according to data collected by Gallup, employee engagement levels are at an all-time low: only 13% of employees worldwide report that they are actively engaged at work.
In a competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace, fostering employee engagement is more important than ever. When employees are accountable in their daily work, they're committed to meeting benchmark goals -- as such, they're more inclined to proactively identify problems, take ownership for solving them, develop creative solutions, and do what it takes to deliver on the organization's Key Results, or "must-deliver" objectives.
Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their competitors by upwards of 145% of total earnings per share. In other words: employee engagement is essential to maintain your organization's profitability.
3. Greater Growth
A recent Deloitte study revealed that 43% of millennials plan to leave their current jobs within two years. High rates of turnover, combined with the rise of the "gig economy" -- in which individuals can volunteer to fulfill remote, part-time, or one-task jobs (fueled by freelance giants like Postmates, Upwork, and Lyft) -- have reshaped the modern marketplace, stilting professional development and organizational growth.
Supporting both professional development and sustained organizational growth requires highly accountable employees willing to take full personal ownership of their actions. In turn, accountability promises organizational progress, as an engaged workforce is more dedicated to delivering on desired results. Employees, too, will see the pay-off of sustained commitment as they accumulate experience they would have otherwise lost through frequent job-hopping or part-time freelancing.
4. Higher Levels of Achievement
While high performance implies efficacy in delivering on major topline results, positive year-over-year growth, and an organization's ability to thrive in competitive markets, achievement is measured by the benchmark successes it takes to get there. You can implement scrum and Six Sigma initiatives with the best intentions, but without true mindset alignment, achievements often falter.
Achieving sustained success demands that everything from daily tasks to multimillion dollar deals are completed on time, on budget, and in accordance with high quality standards. In an accountable workforce, achievement is self-perpetuating -- when individuals hold themselves accountable for high personal achievement, their teams are likely to take notice and strive to achieve on a higher level as well.
When workplace accountability is embodied by individual employees, collective teams, and the organization as a unified whole, every member plays their part in reaching the incremental milestones that together facilitate achievement on a large scale.
5. Increased Agility in Adapting to Change
Today's organizations are forced to "adapt or die" in response to the head-spinning rate of change across industries. Often, the determining factor is a concept known as change fatigue, which occurs when the need for continual change leads to mental burnout and apathy among employees. When burnout happens, innovation and problem-solving stall.
Cutthroat markets necessitate corporate agility, a skill that prepares corporate leaders to accurately anticipate changing trends in their industries and rise to the challenge efficiently and effectively. A corporate culture without workplace accountability is vulnerable to the change fatigue that ultimately results in the failure of new projects, programs, and initiatives to take hold. A Culture of Accountability ensures that every employee is committed to taking personal ownership for delivering on results at speed.
A Tool for Business Leaders
What all of these organizational priorities have in common is this: they require high levels of workplace accountability, which is only achieved when both individuals and teams make the choice to rise above their circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.
In a Culture of Accountability, employees feel connected to the purpose of their work -- enabling them to recognize gaps in performance, take personal ownership for closing those gaps, and deliver innovative solutions. As a result, organizations are able to execute accelerated speed to market, deepened employee engagement, greater growth, higher levels of achievement, and increased agility in adapting to change.
With the new Partners in Leadership Workplace Accountability Index (WAI), recalibrating company culture can lead to profit-boosting practices among all employees in no time. The Index provides leaders with a direct view into accountability across all levels of their organizations by quantifying key indicators including feedback-seeking, psychological ownership, creative problem-solving, and rates of effective action-taking.