We have previously examined the importance of accountability to leadership in a previous article. We have also looked at some of the essentials supervisors are advised to follow when helping to draw up their employee’s accountability agreements.
What we have not done, is examine in detail the components that actually need to be in place in order for an accountability agreement to come to life and thrive. We intend to rectify that deficiency in this paper, so that leaders have a clear and succinct idea of what they need to do to encourage and support their people’s accountability agreements that are to be an important part of the organization’s business culture.
Accountability once introduced, is not intended to be a fly-by-night operation that is in operation to achieve one or two goals. It is meant to be an ongoing sustained process that is participated in and actively supported by both leadership and staff. Lasting achievement however, can only be maintained through constant vigilance and self-discipline. Individuals experience value and rewards stemming from the accountability process.
So too, organizations experience value and worth from the results of their employee’s continued accountability. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to incubate, develop and encourage accountability to flourish as a living essence firmly ingrained in the firm’s operational personality and business culture. Properly drawn up accountability agreements go a long way in achieving this result.
Components of an Effective Accountability Agreement
- Business Focus Statement – This statement effectively describes your “Business Within the Business.” It is your value proposition within the organization.In other words, it needs to function as the bastion in which all employee’s accountabilities are organized. It is not business goals – they come later- it is rather the operational philosophy upon which your firm’s concept of accountability is founded.
- Operational Accountabilities – These accountabilities are succinct statements that clarify the business results that are being promised to be delivered by an employee’s actions and commitments on a daily basis. This is the frame upon which everything else about accountability is based: The motivation to achieve greater results. They describe WHAT is to be accomplished.
- Leadership Accountabilities – These accountabilities are also expressed in terms of outcomes. They describe the work environment that leaders are seeking to create in order to facilitate outstanding performance and make it a realistic goal. They concern HOW work gets accomplished.
- Support Requirements – Success in organizations today requires a significant amount of teamwork and reciprocity. Support requirements, expressed in terms of specific behaviors, effectively outline the resources and contributions that an individual is in need of from others in order to achieve their agreed upon Operational Accountabilities.
- Goals – Operational and leadership accountabilities establish the context for setting specific goals. Goals are both observable and quantitative – providing realistic results that an individual has promised to deliver upon within a given period of time. The accomplishment of goals is a series of smaller steps that leads to the achievement of overall accountabilities.
- Sustainment Plan – The sustainment plan specifically describes how employees intend to keep their Accountability Agreements current and focused on business results even as their professional environment changes around them. Its emphasis is on foresight and flexibility.
All of these six factors are designed to act in concert in order to achieve a lasting, flexible and effective culture of accountability. Bossidy, Charan and Burck, authors of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, state that:
Putting an execution environment in place is hard, but losing it is easy.
It takes guidance and self-discipline to break old habits and consistently practice new ones so that they become established as part of the organization’s work culture status-quo. Regularly holding people accountable for delivering on promised business results is first and foremost among these. Accountability and its properly composed agreements provide a reference point and reminder for both staff and leaders that helps everyone involved follow through and ensure that end product business results are effectively achieved in a high quality and timely manner.
For further reading that be of assistance in propelling staff towards positive work habits, please read 4 Simple Practices to Lead Your People Towards Success.