Accountability works, is needed and is expected in almost every situation – work, athletics, academics, relationships; you name it. Nonetheless, it often feels bad when encountered. Well at least when it is encountered as a ‘teaching’ or ‘coaching’ moment. The problem, however, is not that feedback for negative performance is often done incorrectly. Getting help for bad performance even when done well is still not a situation that most of us want to experience each day. Let’s face it, who wants to report that they are failing and seek help?
The surprising part of accountability is that because we focus on this only fearful aspect of the process, we miss all the positive aspects. Things like hitting a goal, closing a tasks, gaining trust, getting great results, finishing early,… etc. are all part of accountability as well. We enjoy them and we experience them often yet, we forget they are part of the overall accountability process.
Maybe it’s our ego that thinks that we would always perform well regardless of standards, deadlines, process and clarity. Regardless of the reason, it is important for leaders, managers and, anyone else that wants to achieve, to understand that those great things can only happen when accountability is in place. You either need to hire those employees with a tendency to hold themselves accountable or put process or systems that will enforce it. Either way, to enjoy the benefits of accountability it has to be used. If the tasks and goals are realistic then the entire process will be enjoyed by all, including those being held accountable.
Esko Hannula, makes a simple point in his article – What I learnt by tracking my time. Esko writes in his Lesson 3: [I need the feeling of accomplishment. I believe most human beings need regularly the feeling of accomplishing something. I realized I can create those feelings for myself by planning my work so that each chunk of work I plan to do has a proper “definition of done”, no matter how small. In reality I may not have accomplished anything more but still the feeling of achieving my “definition of done” energizes much more than the feeling of “having progressed a b]it”.] Great accounting systems will have clear objectives that have deadlines and measurable results. These results are planned so that hitting them leads to the achievement of a larger vision that is comprised of the process, team and systems that have measurable steps along the way.
Most respond well to positive feedback. Perhaps a simple method to put great accountability into effect is just the regular notice, praise or recognition for a job well done. A great boss will probably do this all the time. All of us can be the boss of our actions and break our work into daily (or even hourly) objectives that provide the stress of completion but also the satisfaction of getting it done. An important thing to observe is that if you are modeling your C-Store after one of the greats in the industry, it is likely that you would find with little investigation that methods of accountability are in place.