Shared Accountability

Does your business have an accountability loophole? Would your employees use it? Yes, some of them absolutely would.

There are several ways that accountability issues come up within a company, and if not addressed, they can hurt the business in the long run.

Here are three major ways that loopholes appear, along with ideas on how to close them for good:

1. Permission-Giving

When permission is given, success will not necessarily be shared with the leader however, failure will be. A common refrain for this loophole is, “But you said I could, you gave me your permission!”

To close this loophole, encourage action-taking, not permission-giving. People sometimes seek permission when wanting to take a shortcut or they don’t want to be blamed for the outcome. They may be lazy, afraid, or they may just be following organizational norms. If so, it’s time to change the norms.

2. Shared Accountability

Where there is shared accountability, there is opportunity to be blamed. When this happens, what you’ll hear most are phrases like, “It’s not my fault, it’s so-and-so’s fault.”

To close this loophole, assign responsibility to a specific individual for every task or outcome, even in cases where work will be shared equally. Organizational dysfunction happens when more than one person is responsible for the same outcome. Always assign a directly responsible individual, so that everyone knows who to go to on a particular project. That way time-lines are met and expectations are clear.

3. Group Decisions

In meetings where decision-making and accountability are blurry, great decisions are not usually made. To close this loophole, make it clear what needs to be decided and by whom for every meeting. When meetings start with no clear person or people responsible for making a decision, everyone assumes it will be a collaborative decision. Since collaborative decisions are difficult to achieve, the group may put off the decision and schedule another meeting. On the other hand, if the boss always makes the decision, then coworkers might not be inspired to voice their opinions. They may not feel that their opinions matter enough or at all. When the decider is known from the start (and alternates, so that the boss isn’t the only one making decisions), the group will be engaged and purpose-driven.

In areas where your organization is experiencing accountability issues, make sure you have set one directly responsible individual, encourage action-taking not permission-seeking and assign accountability in advance for decisions made during meetings.

Encouraging accountability is sometimes hard, however well worth it for your company and your employee’s!

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