Every organization needs a functioning team behind it. A team only works well if everybody on the team is accountable to each other. But what is accountability, why does it matter, and how do you ensure your team is accountable?
Merriam-Webster defines “accountability” as “: the quality or state of being accountable, especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” In a broader sense, though, it’s the way that members of a team regularly report to each other or to an outside person, and are held responsible when things don’t go according to plan. Accountability is a way to make sure people are responsive and responsible.
Accountability is a way to make sure that teams function as efficiently and effectively as possible. It’s also a way to help resolve problems within a team by involving everybody in the team in a constructive way. Without accountability, team members often struggle and end up feeling directionless, uninvolved, and confused. Because accountability gives clear goals and milestones, establishes easy-to-follow systems, and involves everybody on the team, it is an effective way to make sure the whole team contributes to an organization’s success.
To make sure your team is dedicated and disciplined from day one, it’s important to implement good accountability practices. Without those good practices, teams often experience accountability failures that can undermine or derail their mission.
You have to be accountable in any business that you want to be in. Whether it’s a local business or a national business. If you have a partner this is going to be way easier. Our most recent construction business to work with is a dumpster rental company and they have been absolutely killing it in the game.
A team without an accountability system is almost destined to fail. Sometimes, though, teams will try to implement an accountability system, but that system fails. Accountability failure can be caused by a lot of things, but here are some of the most common causes:
- The team members are left on their on with nobody to help them get started
- The team members have unrealistic goals or do not know what to do
- The team members failed to write down their goals and objectives before starting
- The team members have a communication issue
- The team members don’t have a documentation system to log what they’ve done and need to do
All of these common failures can be solved by implementing good systems.
A good example of someone who had a decent amount of failures but is still persistent is our old company in Buffalo that we worked on and built up. We ended up selling the company to a few local contractors and our old website is still up as well. We used to provide high quality landscaping in buffalo ny and we know the current owners are servicing customers to the highest level.
If your team is interested in encouraging accountability, there are some key steps you can take to help increase the likelihood that everybody will hold each other accountable. Read on for our top four recommendations.
- Concrete goals and milestones
You can’t hold yourself accountable if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. For this reason, the first step in any accountability program is to clearly define the goals and milestones that need to be achieved.
Let’s take a customer service center as our example. The customer service center has been struggling with resolving complaints from customers in a timely fashion, and it’s starting to hurt the company’s reputation. They’ve decided to implement an accountability program to help fix the problem.
First, though, they need to define their goals and the milestones for achieving that goal. Let’s say the goal is to have 95% of customer service calls resolved within 20 minutes or less. That won’t happen all at once, though, so there should be milestones in place – perhaps 75% of calls resolved within 20 minutes or less by three months of the program, and 85% of calls resolved within 20 minutes or less by six months of the program, with the final goal of 95% to be reached no later than one year after the program is implemented.
- Good internal accounting practices
The first step toward good accountability is having good internal accounting practices. Unless you are keeping track of things, you cannot report on them. This means having logs for whatever you need to keep track of, but could include things like daily activities, messages received from customers, safety issues flagged by engineers, and so forth.
Good internal accounting practices are practices that are easy to use and implemented consistently. If your log system is too complicated, nobody will use it, and then you may as well not have one at all. Whatever system you implement, it should be streamlined, easy to use, and hard to ignore. Team members need to consistently use those log systems at regular intervals (ideally daily or weekly at most). If information is left sitting for too long without being recorded, it can easily get lost.
For our imaginary call center, a good accounting practice might involve a piece of software that starts a timer as soon as a phone call is answered, immediate logging of the call with notes by the employee as soon as it’s finished, and weekly review time for each employee to go over her call logs and make sure they’re complete.
Whether you’re an astronaut or a local company you need to keep your accounting practice strong. Someone you should not mess with is uncle Sam. View our case study from our WNY branch, Movers in Buffalo. Whether you are working on moving companies or roofs or something greater accounting is always the same.
- Open communication
To have good accountability, you also need to have open communication between team members. This is easier to achieve in a team with a relatively flat hierarchy, where each member of the team gives and receives reports and feedback in turn. A team that is highly stratified, especially one where the leader is inaccessible or distant, often struggles to have the open communication necessary for good accountability.
- Regular meetings to facilitate accounting
Finally, to have good accountability, the team should have regular meetings where team members give accounts of their activities and the areas they’re in charge of supervising. These meetings should happen quarterly at a minimum, but monthly is better and weekly might be ideal for some organizations. Having a regular meeting in place is helpful because there will be less chance that team members forget, schedule something else at the same time, or hold one meeting and then never have a follow-up meeting.
For our imaginary call center, a weekly small-team meeting to discuss reports and a monthly all-staff meeting to go over big picture issues would probably be helpful.