How well do you delegate? Are you as good at giving credit as blame? How do you react when you ask somebody to do something and they do it differently than you thought (or hoped) they would?
What does accountability mean to you? How important is it? Where and on what in your business do you hold yourself accountable? How much do you deal with accountability for team members, employees … vendors?
If you look up definitions, you get a lot about politics, and relatively little about management. I wonder why not? My personal favorite definition is: Being responsible to somebody for some activity. Doesn’t that sound like it should be management?
Accountability breeds responsibility.” Stephen R. Covey
- “It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” Moliere
Why accountability now? Because business has changed so much, and has so much more change coming. Last week I posted on the tension between working in the office and working anywhere and everywhere else. That’s just one factor.
- Consider how accountability has revolutionized marketing, particularly advertising, in the last 10 years. With tools pioneered by the rise of Google, we have pay per click, click rates, conversion rates, and measurability. Before the web that was very hard to get.
- In my own years building a business, watching the planning process and how businesses grow, I’ve come to believe in an accountability dip that’s a natural function of growing a company from the early 2-5 people stage to the growth and organizational stage with 25-50 people.
- We don’t have a lot of systems for accountability. I think it’s supposed to be built into the planning process, pivoting around metrics, tracking results, and — here’s the hard part — giving people both sides (credit and/or blame) of the results.
- We’re sort of getting used to accountability in phone calls. It’s called recording; it happens a lot, or at least I get that phone message we all hear, “this call may be recorded.” I wonder how much really happens with recorded calls.
- What about accountability in email? We tend to treat email as personal, so that looking at somebody’s email output, even reading emails, seems obtrusive. Nobody wants to be big brother. On the other hand, email is your business, it’s legally evidence in a lawsuit if it comes to that, it’s your company’s face to the public.
- Accountability on the web, perhaps? Time spent reading blogs, watching twitter, minding LinkedIn or Facebook. Do you know somebody whose Facebook updates contradict what they tell their boss? Is instant messaging part of normal work flow? How would we measure that, and track results.
I posted here about a year ago on the big brother aspects of monitoring employees in small business, particularly what people are doing with their web browsers. Lately I’ve been spending a lot more time in my blog reader and twitter. Is that good business? Am I accountable to anybody for the time spent on social media? Does it relate to what my company wants me to do? Those are good questions. They lead to this issue of accountability in the new world.
Conclusion? How about this, from Richard Smith’s 10 new Golden Rules for Living in a Web2.0 World, on the Huffington Post:
1) Do unto others as you would have them announce to 100,000 people you have done.
That rule would certainly up the accountability quotient, and fast.
* * * * *
About the Author: Tim Berry is president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and co-founder of Borland International. He is also the author of books and software on business planning including Business Plan Pro and The Plan-as-You-Go Business Plan; and a Stanford MBA. His main blog is Planning Startups Stories. He twitters as Timberry.