leaders who do not hold their people accountable to a set standard are, in effect, thieves and liars. Thieves because they are stealing from the stockholder who pays them to hold people accountable, and liars because they pretend that everything is OK with their people when in fact everything is not OK.— James C. Hunter, The Servant Quote source
The quote speaks to accountability, What is accountability?, Why is it important?, and how do you hold yourself and others accountable? These are the questions I would like to try and answer.
What is accountability? Merriam-Webster defines Accountability as: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions (Emphasis mine). I would totally agree with this definition of Accountability. I believe that accountability is accepting responsibility and being accountable for one's actions/duties.
Why is it important? If you ever want to grow your people and their skill sets then you have to hold them accountable to a standard. If you don't, they will go the path of least resistance. As I mentioned in my article, Expectations: If you Raise it, they will meet it. You can't set or raise expectations for your people and then not hold them accountable to it. As the quote above mentions, you are lying to yourself, your bosses and your people. If you don't acknowledge and do something about people not meeting the standard or expectations that are set.
When you set new expectations, be ready for some push back from some or all of your people. People are creatures of habit, most people don't like to change their routines or work habits. Some are even comfortable with doing the bare minimum that they need to do to get paid. These are the people that will be the real challenge in getting them to reach higher. That's why it's imperative to follow the next steps.
How do you hold your people accountable?
- Walk the talk: If you've set higher expectations or standards for your people, you have to be first willing to show by example how the new expectation or standards are to be met. You can't tell them to reach higher and then sit back and keep doing the minimum as the leader.
- Communicate: In very simple terms, outline what your expectations are for each of your people. Explain to them why the higher expectations are being set and the fact that your doing it due to the fact that you believe in their abilities to meet them.
- Training: If your new expectations or standards require it, train your people in the area's or skill sets that will enable them to meet the new expectations or standards.
- Evaluate and Mentor: Watch and see how your people are doing, talk with them throughout the process, find out what new challenges or obstacles they are facing. Help them by either removing the obstacles or by helping them work through the challenges. Once you've evaluated and mentored them, hold them to the standard. The mentor part will be extremely helpful in helping them come to grips with the higher expectations. If you stay connected and communicate with your people, they will get to where they need to be.
I can't stress enough the need to continuously communicate and mentor your people when setting new standards. It will help tremendously in holding them accountable. When you hold people accountable, it shows them that you care about them and want to help them be better.