Accountability: Motivational Factors

Accountability: Motivational Factors

If your organization is seeking to introduce accountability into its corporate culture, or making the effort to expand and grow the accountability that is already in operation but perhaps not performing to expectation, there is in fact a very specific starting point that needs to be considered.

In our last blog post, we took the time to examine in greater detail the six ‘operating principles’ – presented by Klatt and Murphy, authors of Aligned Like A Laser – that are needed to be recognized and put into practice in order for true accountability to function in a successful manner within a company. To review, they are:

  1. Accountability is personal and not shared with others at the same level
  2. Accountability is ultimately in place for business results
  3. Accountability requires room for personal judgment
  4. Accountability is unconditional (no excuses)
  5. Accountability is good for the organization as a whole and belongs to everyone
  6. Accountability is founded on a fair business bargain

While all of these principles are equally important to practice when introducing or reinforcing accountability amongst employees, it is important to acknowledge that there is one intrinsic factor that underpins all six principles: Motivation. This involves both personal and professional incentive for the individual to not only agree with an accountability bargain, the rewards need to be of enough significance in order to actually inspire an employee to actively wish to participate in the accountability process. And there within, lies the challenge.

Exactly what we are addressing here is the need to convince individuals to become engaged in the accountability paradigm. As is human nature, people for the most part, require some form of positive reinforcement or reward in exchange for increased efforts and commitment to an idea or practice. This is, for lack of a better term, Motivation. Without personal and professional motivation, there is very likely to be a lack of employee engagement. When engagement is absent, the whole accountability process is undermined and will not function properly, ultimately failing to produce the desired business results.

Forbes defines Engagement as; The emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals. They actually care about the company and are thoroughly invested in their work. They don’t simply work for a paycheck or next promotion; but perform their duties with competence for the good of the organization as a whole.

Employee engagement concerning accountability is the goal, Motivation is the method to achieve that end. So we come to our starting point of the accountability process, and as in many instances, the last practice on the list of six Operating Principles is by far, not the least.

Accountability is Founded Upon a Fair Business Bargain

Trade operates on the principle of reciprocity and a ‘fair deal’ is one where all parties involved are satisfied with the end result. In the realm of accountability, this typically boils down to leadership being pleased with staff that is performing to optimal expectations and employees being pleased with the motivational factors or ‘Positive Consequences’ that have been presented to them in return for their commitment to accountability.

According to Klatt and Murphy,

Mutual satisfaction with past business transactions (between leadership and employees), builds trust and confidence required to re-engage in future transactions that will seek to further the success of an organization.”

This essentially creates a positive reinforcement cycle that begins to perpetuate itself to the benefit of all involved.

So what exactly are these Positive Consequences that will help to convince employees that accountability agreements are actually beneficial to them personally and professionally? It must be recognized first and foremost, that this negotiation is far more involved and complicated than the traditional “Carrot and Stick” concept – “I give you more money… You work harder and faster” – does not necessarily apply. Although finances are always an underlying factor in a business arrangement, people are not that easy to understand, much less motivate.

An individual’s motivations are often complex,variable and not always clearly understood by the person themselves. For some, the overriding factors may be prestige, rank or recognition. Others may put stock in family, where additional time off, or being able to work remotely from home or a vacation spot is paramount. As in life, different things are important to different people.

As accountability is an individual practice, the best method for determining each person’s motivational needs is to communicate with them on an individual basis and hammer out with clarity, what exactly is important to them. This of course is a tall order in large companies with multiple departments and numerous employees. However if the accountability process is of a true ‘Top-Down’ nature, leadership in each department will be knowledgeable and competent in carrying out these initial steps.

According to Klatt and Murphy,there are both long term and short term Positive Consequences that can be employed to energize people and motivates them into an accountability mindset and practices.

Long Term Positive Consequences:

  • Consideration for promotion within 2 years
  • Be offered a supervisory role by Q4 next year
  • Shareholders find the company an attractive opportunity for the future
  • Customers regard us as a desirable organization to continue to do business with
  • Acknowledgement by one’s peers for contribution and effort

Short Term Positive Consequences:

  • Six week vacation next fiscal year
  • Nomination for professional award
  • Participate in a flex work program
  • Renewal of contract for further 3 years
  • Bonuses for meeting or exceeding projected goals

These a just a few short examples of possible perks that could be offered to employees that not only addresses and assists in helping them reach for their personal goals, they also lend substantial substance to an individual’s professional empowerment.

Accountability and empowerment, when applied effectively, form a symbiotic relationship. They must coexist and support one another. Empowerment without accountability leads to chaos. Accountability without empowerment is an illusion.

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