Accountability in your organisation

Photo courtesy of Xubaet(CC Attribution)

Without going all Frozen – although the song title sort-of mentioned throughout this blog is quite apt as it’s about being free from restrictions – to really achieve accountability in your organisation, the first thing you need to do is let it go.

The ‘it’ in this case isn’t one particular thing though, but just letting go of the reigns a bit and giving someone else a bit of accountability and responsibility.

It’s important to not confuse responsibility with accountability here. They’re different. Responsibility can be shared among a group, while accountability stops with one person. When you’re accountable, not only are you responsible, the buck stops with you – you’re the only person who can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when it comes to the big decisions.

Making someone responsible for something means giving them accountability to do things their way. This might make some of you recoil in horror, but bear with us. We don’t necessarily mean letting them have complete control so you’re not aware of what’s going on, but being willing to give them the freedom and confidence to run with something. This ownership generally works a treat as people naturally take a bit of extra care and pride when they feel something is their baby.

Getting to the stage where you’re ready to give over that accountability isn’t as difficult as you might think either. Once you’ve decided to do it, you need to think about clarity. Having a clear message at the outset is really important so people know exactly what they’re accountable for. You need to make your aims clear so they know what you want to achieve.

This quote by respected author and ‘champion for clarity Greg Bustin perfectly sums up what we mean: ‘Clarity creates confidence. Confusion causes chaos.’

Achieving this clarity often means having to have a difficult conversation with someone. It’ll be difficult for you because you might not be used to this level of delegation, and the person you’re talking to might find the situation difficult because they’ll be scared of being to blame if things go wrong.

Here’s where you can help – don’t play the blame game and instead look to learn together when it doesn’t go to plan. You’ll need to be prepared to trust the person enough to let them get on with the job you’ve given them. Having trust in your organisation is important too, but that’s for another time.

Bustin (we mentioned him earlier, remember?) believes having accountability is vital for every organisation and their survival, and goes as far as saying: ‘the absence of accountability saps morale, drains profits, disenfranchises good employees while cultivating confusion and crisis.’

His message couldn’t be clearer. And we’re with the esteemed Mr B on this one. To be properly successful at building accountability, you need to not be afraid to really let it go. Just like Queen Elsa (sorry to go all Frozen after we promised not to) in fact.

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