By Greg Dewalt, PRVCA Education Director
“What I have, I create” is a technique I have used and have seen used successfully in organizations to instill accountability in leaders and teams. Accountability is a trait people can learn, or learn to accept. You can’t force people to be accountable, but you can train to it. To be successful with the training, you will need an accountable organization and train everyone to “What I have, I create.”
So what is “What I have, I create”? Taken to the extreme metaphoric definition: If a drunk driver would run a stop light and crash into your car, who is at fault? Most people would want to put blame for the accident on the other driver, the bar he just left, the distillery or brewery, or some act of God. But the true answer is you are. You chose to drive your car, at the intersection, at that point in time. You could have chosen to be anywhere else at that time, but you chose to be there.
Let’s apply this to a more realistic situation. The manager has a goal for his team, which was set by the organization. The manager may meet the goal or fail at meeting the goal. He may hit roadblocks of all kinds which will impact the success of meeting the goal. The manager who lacks accountability will cite reasons he was not able to meet the goal. He will ask for solutions without any input to them. By asking for solutions, he can then blame the outcome on whomever provided the solutions. Whereas the accountable manager will accept the goal as his own. He will seek out solutions to roadblocks. He will present solutions to management with a well thought out plan.
“What I have, I create” will not work over night. It will require an accountable organization from the top down. You will need to have the right elements in place.
People struggle without clear and concise definition of their responsibilities. Build job descriptions for each manager. Give them a baseline of processes to work with. Accountable teams will identify gaps, build new processes, and become a more capable team.
Ownership of results:
Focus on the team processes. Each member can seek information, give feedback and possible solutions to any roadblocks to success. By allowing the team members the latitude to provide further information and correct processes, they will inherently own the process as well as the results of their efforts.
Freedom and support:
Many roadblocks have numerous solutions. Allow your team to come up with their solution, then guide them and support them as opposed to interjecting your own. This will build confidence in your team and managers.
Do not create fear:
If you are looking for someone to hold accountable for missed targets, then this is not for you. Punishment for missed targets will create fear in your employees. It will stifle creativity, innovation and all risk taking. Everyone in the organization will look for ways to shirk responsibility and the blame game will take over.
Fostering a learning environment:
Accountability allows your teams to improve and create new processes. They will learn the processes that work and create new ones for those that do not. Your teams and managers will bring what is working and what is not to light for you. Your organization will have more transparency from which you can learn. Look for what has influenced the situation, processes and culture.
Your teams and managers will seek out feedback on how they are doing. Feedback will become the norm, a part of the process of improvement. It will add to their knowledge base intended for their improvement. Provide multiple channels for this feedback. Remember, it goes both ways as well.
You do what you say you are going to do. Expect the same from your managers and team. Call out those who say they are going to do something and fail to do it. Endorse those who admit they have fallen short and support them in improving.