Morton defines personal accountability as “the willingness to be called to account for the fulfillment of an outcome and the execution of a trust.” Accountability is at a higher level than responsibility. All employees are responsible for the items in their job descriptions, but only leaders are accountable for critical outcomes. Organizations have few accountabilities, but many responsibilities.Only one leader can have primary accountability for an outcome; otherwise, communication and coordination will be inadequate and results will be delayed, more expensive, or less effective. Singular accountability minimizes power conflicts. Shared accountability is almost never effective. If no leader wants accountability for a specific outcome, the outcome may need to be redefined. The leadership team determines who has the specific expertise needed for each outcome and how the people who have that expertise fit into the organizational structure. That may include elevating responsibilities for employees with specialist skills or hiring outside consultants.
When individual leaders accept accountable for variances, collaborative solutions are possible. Leaders who admit to variances enhance their credibility. Their peers know that they are more interested in solving problems than avoiding embarrassment. A management team must understand the effects of a variance before determining a solution. The team should:
*Analyze data to estimate the costs, risks, and problems caused by a variance.
*Determine who has been harmed by the variance and the scope of that harm.
*Determine who benefits from the variance. It could be an employee who is shirking responsibilities or someone engaged in reprehensible behavior.
*Listen to people who question the scope of the problem or a proposed solution and consider alternatives.
*Consider best practices from outside the organization.
*Implement a solution with caution or in steps when it might be disruptive.
*Make sure a solution is systematic.
*Evaluate the solution — compare the costs of implementation with the cost of the variance.
The process is time-consuming, but it is worthwhile to prevent recurring problems.
Good Luck 🙂