The Nuts and Bolts of Accountability

The Nuts and Bolts of Accountability

In previous papers exploring the practice of accountability, we have focused on how and why it is important to organizational leadership and how by supervisors correctly using it, they empower their employees towards greater autonomy, improved self motivation and new heights of job performance in both scope and quality. All of these benefits should remain ascendant in the consciousness of business supervisors. Now that leaders understand what accountability actually is, how it works and how their organizations can stand to gain from the process, we must recognize that it still remains to be seen exactly what needs to be done to get the ball rolling.

Employee accountability is articulated through the creation of a non-legal, yet still binding document that functions as a business transaction between supervisor and employee, It is otherwise known as an Accountability Agreement.  It affords an avenue towards success by emphasising the details of the business bargain by highlighting professional expectations and projected outcomes. It also covers the potential results of satisfactory fulfilment of these goals or lack thereof, by congruently proposing sets of both rewards for success and consequences associated with failure to perform.

The Accountability Agreement is usually a short but detailed overview that also covers the resources and support – technical or otherwise – than an individual may require in order for them to successfully deliver on the business results agreed upon.

According to Klatt and Murphy, co-authors of Aligned Like a Laser, there is a specific process that can be followed for developing an Accountability Agreement.


Make notes highlighting the essential factors that will be written into the agreement. Have a good frame of reference in mind regarding your strengths, weaknesses and timelines. This ensures accurate projections of achievable goals in a realistic sense, and prevents over promising or underestimating agreed upon results.


Write down your Accountability Agreement in first draft form and then build upon and refine the agreement as you move through subsequent drafts with an experienced accountability consultant.


Seek out and receive feedback from your supervisor(s), co-workers and others prior to your final draft and revise accordingly.


Establish professional parameters of acceptance that you are willingly motivated to fulfill. Negotiate details with your supervisor and agree upon support required from others and on acceptable consequences – both positive and negative regarding business results.


As has been discussed in our previous blog, business is a dynamic environment and in order to stay on top of things, individuals need to remain flexible and flow with external and internal change. Refer to and use your Accountability Agreement, and update it as necessary to ensure it remains current and valuable. Make sure that you supervisor is aware of,and agrees to any revision made within the agreement,as is a business bargain between to parties and each needs to be aware of its newly formulated status.

These component steps involved in drawing up an Accountability Agreement can not be left in the abstract. By solidly defining the process that needs to be understood and followed, leaders and employees are provided with an accurate template that they can refer to when newly drawn up agreements are being composed. The accountability and alignment structure described in this and our last accountability blog, provides the proper framework for making these ideas a reasonably achievable reality. It functions to form a work culture that lends itself to optimal employee motivation and performance.

The key result, is that accountability begins with the development of tangible agreements that are written down and agreed upon by both supervisors and employees. Accordingly, accountability then progresses to aligning itself within workgroups consisting of individuals who are aware of each other’s roles and responsibilities facilitating project harmony and teamwork. Finally, the successful implementation of alignment inside a workgroup can then be applied in a similar manner to positively linking interdependent workgroups across departments of the organization in the overall chain of collective project support and organizational co-operation. This allows everyone in the company – from leaders on down – to ultimately focus on exercising optimal motivation and efforts in order to see projects successful through to the end and ensuring projected and desired business results for the good of the whole.

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