Accountability is taking up responsibility for work to be done. A person who accepts accountability accepts the onus of getting desired results. In other words, responsibility is assigned by others and accountability is taken by you, and it is a clear commitment to be kept!
Accountability works at 3 levels, individual, team and organizational level. Since we are speaking of mastery at individual level, we will be delving deep into how to be accountable at our personal level.
All of us have been at various points in time tested over commitment to our professional life versus some emergencies on personal level. I can think of numerous examples of my colleagues sacrificing important occasions like marriages and deaths in family to be able to complete important tasks on hand at work. We would expect most of working population to be accountable, but it is surprising to note that lack of accountability is one of the biggest worries senior executive face at workplace.
This brings us to wonder what makes us accountable? Do we foster accountability as a habit?
Here are the some of the factors which play a major role in making us accountable:
- Solid work ethic and character: The first thing which comes to my mind is that people with strong character realize that their work is representation of themselves and go that extra mile put their best into any job assigned to them. Having a strong work ethic and character form the foundation of accountability.
- Passion and Perseverance: Being passionate about doing only your best at our jobs and nothing less and also the ability to persevere in spite of various setbacks you encounter during the course of your work.
- Love for your job: You may be employed by an organization or may be self-employed, in both the cases, how attached are you to your job role or your business profile makes a lot of difference in the way you look at your work.
- Loyalty to the organization: Are you proud to the organization you work for? Do you relate to the vision of the organization? Do you believe in the goals set by the organization for yourself? The more you relate to all the above, the more you feel committed to the cause of the organization and take the accountability to achieve results.
- Commitment to goals: Clearly defined goals form the basis of accountability towards results. When you are determined to achieve a goal, you commit yourself to it and you become accountable for achieving it. Ideally goals should be SMART.
- Clear direction and planning: Having a clear strategy towards achieving goals helps in focusing better and being committed to work. Particularly during early part of the career, little help from seniors in terms of defining clear goals and tasks to be completed in order to achieve them can go a long way in making work easier for the younger generation.
- Clear communication: Effective communication is always simple to understand. Leaders are responsible for clearly communicating what the team is responsible for. In case of individuals, they need to follow up with their reporting managers to understand communication clearly.
- Prioritization of the task as per urgency is also an important part of being accountable. Ability to balance tasks will lead to completion of task on time and increase accountability.
- Set up reminders to complete tasks in timely manner. Keep constant track of your commitments.
- Consistent: Being consistent at your work without slacking. This will mean being punctual, disciplined, following rules and completing task in timely manner.
- Monitoring progress: Ability to monitor our progress against targeted goals in a timely manner helps us in knowing whether we are on track with respect to our goals. Ask yourself constantly “How am I doing at my Job?”
- Seek feedback: Feedback is crucial to understand how we stack up to expectations of others. Accurate and timely feedback is a very effective learning tool and helps not only you but also the organization to set up a culture genuine accountability.
- Training yourself: In case you feel you are not skilled enough to do the job, put in efforts to learn the skills required to complete the job.
- Follow-up with others: In case your task is dependent on a team for completion, please remember to follow up with other members of the team on their progress and holding them accountable.
Last but not the least, accountability is about high performance. Contrary to how many people might view it, being highly accountable makes us less stressful, increases our productivity and satisfaction with life, builds trust and credibility and makes people rely on us.
Anecdote: This is a story about four friends named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and this job was assigned to them. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Everybody got angry about that and Somebody had to be blamed and pointed to Anybody who came in vicinity at that moment. Ultimately Nobody owned the responsibility for the work not carried out. Because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. That’s how important accountability is!