Accountability. It’s a word we hear often from clients. “We need accountability for results.” “I have to hold people accountable.” “We have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to make sure teams are accountable.” Unfortunately, many organizations focus solely on numbers and metrics for accountability without the recognition that it takes a lot more than a set of quantitative goals to boost accountability.

In this terrific HBR blog post, Peter Bregman outlines five points that must be addressed in order to foster accountability – clear expectations, capability, measurement, feedback, and consequences. He offers great tips for stepping up as a leader and manager to get the results you are looking for and asking yourself key questions such as:

  • Clear expectations – Do your team members understand what you are looking for, what you are expecting of them? Have you mapped out together how they will proceed? Have you listened to their expectations and concerns as well?
  • Clear measurement – What are the milestones and targets you will agree to to stay on track? How will you ensure that you have checkpoints in place to identify any issues early on?
  • Clear feedback – Do your team members know how you are assessing their performance? Are you providing regular guidance and feedback to support progress? Are you available and open to feedback about what your team members need from you?

All of these steps outlined by Bregman require a real commitment on your part to take the time and give the attention needed to set your team members up for success. As you can tell from Bregman’s process, this is not a “one and done” conversation but rather regular, focused discussions to share information, gauge performance, give support, and keep an open dialogue. For many leaders, that requires a shift in priorities and a different way of leading. The principles of Thoughtful Leadership fit well with what is required –

  • Being present – being available and accessible to have the conversations and taking the time to give uninterrupted time to your team members when needed.
  • Being intentional – giving real thought and purpose to the objectives you are setting for your team and working together to set mutual goals and intentions.
  • Being authentic – having honest and open discussions without being too vague, too “soft”, or too harsh.

Accountability is critical to the success of any team and organization – and it doesn’t happen with numbers and goals on a page. It happens with consistent, open and sometimes difficult conversations to reach the outcomes you are striving for.

What steps do you need to take to boost accountability within your team?
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