The Power of Accountability

Jeffrey Benjamin Breakthrough Training

by Jeffrey Benjamin

Accountability is tied to success. When you are accountable, you are incredible. Here are some tools that can help you to be accountable and how you can hold others accountable, too.

Get an accountability partner. Exercise is easier to act on when you have a workout partner or hire a personal fitness trainer. Who can you team up with to hold you to a higher standard? Any goal can be less challenging with an accountability buddy. The right partner creates a reciprocal relationship in which each person is inspired by the other to achieve more.

Use verbal confirmation. Say it! Let it be known that you made a verbal commitment to accomplish what you set forth. If you want someone to fulfill an expectation, let the person acknowledge acceptance of the task or project.

Remind yourself why it is important. What is the significance of your resolution? Why do you want what you want? Why is it important to you? Do you want to experience greater financial freedom? Better health? A better connection in your relationships? Know, understand and define why what you want is important to you. Write it down. Refer to it often, especially when you are feeling unmotivated.

Leverage the importance of full participation. Share the importance of everyone being fully involved to create team and individual success. Let people know that their commitment and participation is vital. In football or any other sport, each role plays a position that contributes to overall success. Encourage the relevance of individual dedication.

Give positive acknowledgement. Each day you have the opportunity to tell someone they did a great job. It only takes a few seconds to recognize the efforts of others. Who helped you? Who stepped up to contribute value?  Give credit to those that earned it. Follow the advice of Sam Walton who said, “Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel.”

Use environmental anchors. Place items in your environment that evoke action. Display your goals and objectives. Major corporations have signage announcing their mission and core values. This reminds employees and customers what they stand for. Post individual and team goals where they can be reviewed often.

Focus on personal accountability. Albert Einstein nailed it when he said, “Being an example is not a way of influencing others, it is the only way.” If you want other team members to be accountable for their actions, then you must first demonstrate your personal accountability. The manager or supervisor that preaches the importance of being punctual, but is always tardy loses credibility. If you want to be seen as a leader, and to lead others, you must let your behavior do the talking.

Provide appropriate training. Holding someone accountable that has not been properly trained is insanity. Does the person know what is expected of them? Do they have the skill set to perform what is expected? Ongoing training is one of the best ways to ensure accountability because it removes the excuse of, “I didn’t know” or “I don’t know how.”

Use the power of documentation. If it is not in writing, it does not exist. Write down job descriptions, performance expectations and appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Document reprimands and achievements. Write down assignments and personal commitments.

Make it part of daily messaging. A short daily team meeting in person or over the phone can help to align performance. Priorities can be set and updates on previous assignments can be covered. Company goals and commitments also can be shared on footers in emails, discussed in company-wide rallies and used in everyday verbiage when addressing issues.

Follow up regularly. Inspect what you expect is the old adage. Follow up on assignments, commitments and on the progress of personal and team goals. Schedule time each week to follow up.

Maintain personal integrity. Do what you say you are going to do. When you say one thing and do another you are not practicing integrity. When you say you are going do something and you don’t do it, does this increase or decrease the way you see yourself and how others see you? When you break your word, you shatter the confidence people have in you—and you in yourself.

Hold everyone to the same standard. You can’t hold some people accountable while letting other people off the hook. Showing favoritism only creates confusion and animosity.

Don’t give or accept excuses. Remember this: Nobody ever buys an excuse, even though most people are trying to sell one. What is your response when someone offers you an excuse? Do you really care? Are you annoyed? Lots of excuses are floating around as to why people are late, why they couldn’t follow through or why they engage in poor behavior. Excuses are little more than spineless rationalizations. Set yourself apart from the majority by never uttering an excuse. And, don’t accept an excuse from someone else.

Criticize the behavior, not the person. Reprimand can correct behavior, but telling someone that they are a bad person or that they are useless or worthless only supports current poor behavior. Nobody likes to feel as though they are inadequate. That’s why it is crucial to zero-in on specific behavior and how to correct that behavior, not condemn the person.

You can improve your personal performance and that of others. Grab onto, and practice, a few of these ways to hold yourself and others accountable. Best of success to you!

Jeffrey Benjamin is the founder of Breakthrough Training in Reno. Contact him at www.breakthroughtraining.com.

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