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.
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- 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.