Accountability tops the list of management challenges in many organizations. But most leaders are approaching the issue from a compliance standpoint instead of as a motivational issue. That’s a mistake.
As Scott Blanchard, principal and executive vice president with The Ken Blanchard Companies shares in the company’s January Ignite newsletter, “You cannot crack the whip enough, or hold someone accountable enough, to achieve the kind of results you can if, instead, you focus on helping people understand the vision, care about it deeply, and see themselves as a part of it.”
In Blanchard’s experience, leaders who create that kind of alignment don’t have to worry about accountability. Instead, employees will start holding the leader accountable to clear the way and help employees get things done.
Alignment Can Be A Challenge
In Performance Management: Putting Research into Action, author and consultant William Schiemann shares the results of a Metrus Group survey that identifies six gaps that get in the way of organization alignment. While each factor on its own contributes to a portion of the problem, the cumulative effect is staggering—only 14% of the organizations Schiemann polled reported that their employees have a good understanding of their company’s strategy and direction.
Strategies for Closing the Gap
For leaders looking to close the alignment gap in their organizations, Schiemann recommends seven key steps:
- Develop a clear, agreed-on vision and strategy.
- Translate the vision and strategy into clear, understandable goals and measures.
- Include and build passion for the vision, strategy, goals among those who are implementing them.
- Provide clarity regarding individual roles and requirements and link them across the organization.
- Make sure that people have the talent, information, and resources to reach the goals.
- Give clear, timely feedback on goal attainment.
- Provide meaningful incentives to encourage employees to develop or deploy sufficient capabilities to achieve the goals.
One of the tools that Blanchard uses to begin closing the gap is an “impact map” that creates a clear line-of-sight between an individual employee’s work and the overall goals of the organization.
“When people understand where their organization is going—including the role they play in it—they step up, work less selfishly and they tend to make better business decisions on behalf of the company. That’s because they can see the impact of every decision and how it impacts overall results.”
For managers looking to set and achieve goals more effectively in the coming year, John Hester, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies, recommends a three-step process.
- Approach goal setting as a partnership. This is something to be done in partnership with your team member. It should be a collaborative process. So the manager needs to know what the employee’s key areas of responsibility are, what is expected in the role, and what they want to see in terms of performance. The key is to have that discussion with the employee.
- Identify why a particular goal is motivating. What difference does it make in the organization, or to the team, or to the individual employee? Sometimes all people need to know is why the task is important. The “why” explains how the person’s task fits in with overall job performance and the goals and objectives of the unit, division, organization, and customer. It clarifies how the task supports higher-level outcomes.
- Diagnose competence and commitment levels. It’s important that a manager find out about experience with a specific task and then partner with the employee to determine what they need in terms of direction and support to be successful with this particular assignment.
To read the entire article, check out Rethinking Accountability. You’ll find some additional ideas by motivation expert Dr. David Facer on Six Alternatives to an Accountability Discussion, plus a link to a free January 30 webinar on 3 Keys to Building Alignment and Accountability, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.