When working with some of our CEO clients, one of their main complaints is: “No one takes accountability for anything around here!” Generally, this discussion moves into a conversation about how well that CEO is setting expectations and then managing to those expectations. More than once I’ve heard this: “I tell them what to do. Do I have to babysit to make sure they get it done?”
You may find this familiar because if you are a business owner, a leader, or a manager… basically anyone that manages people on any level, you’ve heard the same things. Lack of accountability runs rampant in businesses and it doesn’t matter what size. We’ve seen this issue show up in companies with 2 employees as well as in companies with over 1,000 employees.
When it comes to accountability, how do you go about creating it as well as getting buy-in from your employees? Some may even say that the idea of accountability is something hard and distasteful. But the reality is, most people want to be held accountable and they want clear goals to match.
Organizations where people don’t hold each other accountable tend to have repetitive challenges that can look like meetings not starting on time, meetings without agendas or deadlines being missed. A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that almost 50% of managers are terrible at accountability. When CEOs list accountability as their number one problem, they feel the pain of dealing with so many problems that should belong to others. If you want to have a culture of accountability, one of the steps are creating clear expectations.
The 7 Stages of Growth X-Ray provides accountability around clear expectations and buy-in for the specific problems your company has to solve for its current stage of growth. Here’s how.
Accountability starts with buy-in. The main reason people struggle with accountability is lack of clarity. Performing a business X-Ray allows all voices to chime in to the challenges and the issues the company is facing. And once there is buy-in to those challenges and issues, people are signing up to be responsible for just those specific things. There is no gray area. They have committed to the top five initiatives the company needs to address and each person is accountable for one or more of those initiatives. Done deal, right?
The old saying ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ comes to mind when I run into a CEO who agrees to the X-Ray process, but lacks the management experience to then hold people accountable to the initiatives. So how does a leader overcome this shortcoming?
Here’s how we help leaders work through these issues.
Prior to the X-Ray, we spend time talking to the CEO about the process and we work with them to explain the outcomes and what is required from that CEO once the process is completed. We help them understand that the X-Ray program is the beginning of educating his or her team on how to set expectations, how to follow up, and how to hold people accountable. The value from this program is certainly the buy-in to those initiatives. However, there is a stronger value in using the process to help a CEO learn how to manage, follow up and hold people accountable. Part of our work usually involves coaching sessions with the CEO to make sure the critical questions are being asked, check in on the progress, help uncover any obstacles and to remind the CEO that follow up isn’t micromanaging. It’s sound management. It’s necessary management. As Dave Ramsey always says: “To be unclear is to be unkind.”
Here are five steps we help you take to make sure accountability is built into your X-Ray program:
Step 1: Talk about accountability and how it shows up in your organization today. Get a good sense as to how you manage and how prepared you are to set clear expectations and manage to those expectations. The success of strategic direction really starts here.
Step 2: Make sure your team has the process explained and what they will go through, focusing on the outcomes. Explaining the process uncovers the top five issues the team agrees need immediate attention. More than likely, what shows up will not be a surprise. There are always issues companies consistently know they should address, but never seem to find the time to address them.
Now is the time.
Step 3: During the process, continue to talk about outcomes to the team, find out if the issue they are bringing up has history. Talk about why there is frustration (because there always is) around a certain topic and help bring the conversation around to what people are willing to do to make sure this time is different. Talk about accountability. Talk about setting expectations.
Step 4: After the five top issues are selected, take the time to identify ownership of the individual initiatives and talk about what that ownership looks like. How it will be called upon over the next three months. We make sure the owners of the initiatives know to get their direct reports involved immediately after the X-Ray in order to keep the conversation alive and get buy-in from other people in the company.
Step 5: Set up a leadership team meeting 5 – 7 days after the X-Ray. The point of this meeting is to have the participants from the X-Ray take time to meet with their individual teams, share the role those people will play in creating the plan to implement on that initiative, and bring that plan to that leadership team meeting. This is where the CEO can hear how teams will implement those initiatives, address any concerns and make sure the entire leadership team knows what everyone is doing.
We provide a tool that clearly identifies those five initiatives, which challenge that initiative should address, what the purpose of that initiative is, who owns it and what are the measurable outcomes once that initiative is resolved.
Do you want to find out how accountability shows up in your organization? We can help you identify this and other growth obstacles that may be building up in your organization through our Stages of Growth X-Ray™. In three distinct ways we can help you prepare for the next stage of growth:
- Online assessments that are stage-specific, people can get to the heart of the strategic growth issues quickly
- Provides a language of growth that gets to the root cause of growth barriers in a short period of time
- Creates alignment around the top issues that everyone agrees must be addressed right away.
Contact us today to start on your course to business growth.