Imagine if the engineers who were responsible for Apollo 13 just stood around waiting for someone else to do something when they heard those immortal words, "Houston, we have a problem"? No way! Everyone was scrambling to find a way to bring our astronauts home safely. It was not someone else's problem. It was everyone's problem and they all took ownership of finding a solution.
Imagine if everyone took ownership of problems and obstacles that occur each and every day in the workplace of our organizations! How do we create an environment where team members collectively step up to achieve results and engage others in doing the same?
In today's complex work environment, it is very easy to feel that we have no control over situations. So we blame it on the economy, the government, the boss, the front line, or the computer, etc. Some of the common symptoms that an individual or organization is not accountable for their results:
- Blaming others and point fingers
- Blaming policies or work equipment
- Discussions of problems focus more on what CANNOT be done rather than on what CAN be done
- Feeling that you have been treated unfairly and thinking you cannot do anything about it
- Spending a lot of time talking about things that cannot be changed
- Citing confusion as a reason for not taking action
- Saying things like: "It's not my job"; "There's nothing I can do about it"; "All we can do is wait and see"; "Just tell me what you want me to do."
- Spending valuable time crafting a compelling story detailing why you were not at fault.
In a dynamic and constantly moving and shifting "service world", the key focus for accountability must be complete "service delivery". The complete "service delivery" is defined not by us but by our customers and users. Without completely understanding, defining and communicating customers' satisfaction, it will be difficult to maintain reasonable, credible and fair accountability standards.
Accountability requires definition by leadership. It is not easy and it needs constant vigilance and nurturing. Assumptions are accountability's worst enemy. As a leader of an organization, we must clearly communicate goals and objectives over and over. The result will be improved accountability.