Cultivate a Highly Accountable Culture by Mike Evans

Most senior organizational leaders have a firm grasp, clear vision and solid understanding of the critical results that must be realized by their organization as they look out twelve to eighteen months into the future. However, data collected over the past twenty years reveals that 90% of the time those ‘must-achieve desired results’ are not crystal clear in the minds of employees.

Ask your subordinates, your peers, and your boss, “What are the two to four ‘must-achieve desired results’ that our organization must take accountability to accomplish this year?”  Would their answers be precise, consistent, and aligned?  Would your colleagues, and employees at every level, know how each was being measured? If not, you are not alone! After twenty plus years of working with hundreds of organizations around the world, to our surprise, the data reveals that nine out of ten senior leadership teams fail to clearly define and communicate their ‘must-achieve desired results.’

Can employees voluntarily choose to take accountability to help your organization achieve your ‘must-achieve desired results’ if they are not sure what they are?

How does it feel to be held accountable to deliver a result you did not know existed?

Accountability begins with clearly defined ‘must-achieve desired results.’  Employees cannot choose to take accountability to achieve results that are ambiguous, vague, or foggy. Bereft of pristine clarity, teams and organizations experience lack of alignment, confusion, misunderstandings, miscommunications, mistrust, cynicism, apathy, stress, frustration and isolation.  Ultimately giving rise to excuse-making, finger-pointing, and most often a heavy dose of the blame-game.

When every single employee is crystal clear on your top ‘must-achieve desired results’ they are more likely to go above-and-beyond what is ‘required.’ Helping their team or organization realize the ‘must-achieve desired results’ becomes viewed as ‘my job.’ Leading to employees voluntarily tapping into their discretionary performance area to contribute more fully.

Your ‘must-achieve desired results’ are not to be confused with goals or objectives.  Goals and objectives often tend to be aspirational, or things we hope to achieve.  The term “results” instills a sense of urgency.  These ‘must-achieve desired results’ are the top two to four critical outcomes that must be accomplished in the next twelve to eighteen months.  These ‘must-achieve desired results’ should catapult your team or organization into a better position than where you exist today. 

Goals are directional. ‘Must-achieve desired results’ are the outcomes we must accomplish together.  If your ‘must-achieve desired results’ do not make you feel challenged, then they are not the right ‘must-achieve desired results’. These ‘must-achieve desired results’ are ‘in addition’ to the day-to-day work that must be maintained. These are the results that allow us to avoid complacency, which is the death knell to many organizations

To ignite a culture of accountability, the ‘must-achieve desired results’ must be clear in the minds of every employee and member of the team. The ‘must-achieve desired results’ become their ‘job.’ This increases alignment, nurtures collaboration, strengthens teamwork, improves communication, instills focus and determination, forges camaraderie, spawns creativity and innovation and deepens employee engagement and morale. Most importantly it breeds a ‘can-do’ mindset versus the destructive thinking that results from the toxic emotions of playing the blame-game.

Without clearly defined ‘must-achieve desired results’ leadership and direction is abdicated to the tsunami of activity, workload and urgencies that emerge daily. When that occurs, employees decide for themselves what is most important and the outcomes that must be achieved.

Being ‘busy’ and staying ‘active’, does not assure ‘must-achieve desired results’ will be accomplished. A daily focus on what matters most – ‘must-achieve desired results’ – does.

Accountability begins with this clarity.  But it does not end there. Leaders must also ensure employees at all levels can make the connection or translation between ‘what’ they do, and how it contributes to achieving the ‘must-achieve desired results.’

When Determining ‘Must-Achieve Desired Results’ Consider the Following:

¨       The ‘must-achieve desired results’ are what allow you to do what you do. To achieve your mission.  To deliver on your reason to be.

¨       Everyone must know how are we measuring each ‘must-achieve desired results’?  Where do we stand against that metric today?  What is our target metric?  Devoid of knowing how to play the game (where we stand today against the metric, and what we must achieve) employees are unlikely to embrace a mindset of “what else can I do” to help the team achieve the ‘must-achieve desired results.’

¨       If reporting to a board of directors at year-end, what are the top two to four results that would be of most importance to them?

 

Why Defining and Communicating ‘Must-Achieve Desired Results’ is Important:

¨       When desired top results are defined and communicated, organizations leave no room for misinterpretation, confusion, or misunderstandings of what are the top priorities.

¨       Employees cannot voluntarily take accountability to achieve results they do not know exist.

¨       Employees begin to identify and define their job as achieving desired top results and not simply a list of daily activity. Employees at all levels, no matter position or responsibility, are hired into any organization to help achieve desired key results.  Inasmuch, clearly defined top results foster a culture where employees go “above and beyond” their job descriptions to help achieve desired key results.

¨       When desired top results are vague or unclear, employees tend to focus on “just doing their job”, which rarely is sufficient to propel a team or organization to the next level.

¨       When desired top results are defined and communicated, organizations often cite increased levels of employee engagement, collaboration, commitment, performance and morale.  As well as less frustration, misunderstandings, miscommunications and confusion.

¨       Desired top results spawn a culture of shared accountability.

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