Why Team Accountability is Important and 6 Ways to Keep It on Track

Train on Curve 210Most days you simply need to look at our politicians, no matter what party you support, to see what a team is not. A group of ego centric, I am the expert, opinionated, we want everything our way, it is us vs them people is not a team. It is a group of people who create chaos, are non-productive, are in a constant state of conflict, and reside in the state of stalemate. Where is the accountability?

It took the last train to Clarksville and I don’t know if it’s ever coming home.  How can we turn this train around? How can each passenger on the train be accountable as well as the entire team? Certainly, the ones driving the train need to fuel this train and keep it on track and running smoothly.

Why Is Team Accountability Important?

While our society does place value on individuals and individual contributions, teamwork is also vitally important to the success of every organization. Each has its place, value, and time to contribute and leaders who understand this and the implementation of these two philosophies are the most successful.

At times it may be that one person needs to step into a chaotic situation who brings a special brand of expertise to calm and bring solutions to get everyone back on track. When it comes to strategy, planning, and problems solving, teams can collectively bring more to the table.

So yes, both individuals and teams bring value, both serve important roles, and both need to be accountable. There is no team that can achieve success without the foundation of responsible individuals. Here are six ways to help your teams on board the accountability train.

1. The Why

Unless you have been under a rock, you most certainly have had the pleasure of viewing

When everyone in your organization understands the why of your organization, then you have a powerful foundation for success. Teams need this same foundation. The team not only needs to understand the why of the organization, but the why behind their projects. Why is the project important? Why the team’s role is significant to the success of the project? The importance of an individual’s role should be apparent, but this can be a good place to revisit that as well.

2. Clarity

Just as the why needs to be clear, expectations need to be clear as well. Holding a team accountable for something that no one explains to them will derail any team. According to a recent study, only 15% of leaders make expectations clear. This study by Partners in Leadership is an eye opener in terms of the lack of clarity engulfing organizations.

3. Follow-Up

In my coaching practice, it amazes me that a client will complain about the performance of a direct report around a project and I get the deer in the headlights look when asking if check points are part of project assignments. They either do not have the foggiest idea of what I am talking about or they do not think setting check in points should be necessary to have to give to an adult. Employees believe that managers know every project they are working on, but managers with several reports find it difficult to keep track of every direct report’s workload. Establishing check in points is good management and keeps you both accountable for completing a project and meeting your deadline.

4. Coach

Not every manger is a good coach. However, coaching can, and should be, part of leadership development. Further coaching is one of the best accountability tools on the planet. It helps remove roadblocks, increases productivity and it establishes a collaborative working culture. This can help encourage peer-to-peer coaching and helps build a coaching and collaborative culture throughout the organization.

5. Communication

Communication between team members needs to be frequent and clear. It helps to ensure that team members understand one another’s communication style to bolster understanding, cooperation, and collaboration. Projects going off track, experiencing delays, or failing to “leave the station” in a timely manner are important points of information and demand immediate communication. Managers need to communicate to teams frequently for the same reasons. Further, you may be accountable for some resource you may be unable to deliver to the team for a project. Failing to inform them of this can be the catalyst for creating a train wreck.

6. Consequences

Consequences are part of accountability and should be so at every level of the organization. Clearly communicating the fact that there are consequences and exactly what those consequences are is an important factor in accountability. However, prevention is worth a pound of cure.

7. Bonus – Eliminate Excuses

Coaching helps eliminate excuses by asking the right questions. When an employee presents an excuse, ask: “What can you do to prevent that from happening again? “Even better teach them to ask the question of themselves. Here are a few examples: “What can I do to get to work on time every day?” It may be that they need to change a schedule, a routine, or get some help with a child or whatever. They need to solve the problem. Here is another, “What can I do to build my career?”  The individual may need to take on extra projects, be more visible, connect more, or even obtain more education or a certification. One more, “Why is all this change happening to me?” The individual may need to become better at adapting to change or learn how to make changes work in their favor.

Accountability is also an excellent topic for employee and leadership development. Are you including accounting training, or information about accountability on a regular basis? For more information on implementing a culture of accountability in your organization, Let’s Get Started!

Graphic Credit: BigStock.com

Coaching,, Leadership,, Accountability