Why Do We Complicate Accountability?

David Norman | | Leadership Improvement

EOS is all about focus, discipline and accountability and appropriately so.  Successful organizations have all three.  Lacking any one, the organizational results suffer.

Yet, ‘accountability’ is often misunderstood and misused.  In our every-day business language we say things like, “Go hold him/her accountable,” or words to that affect.  Problem is, you can’t ‘hold’ anyone accountable; you can’t be there, as if you two were working side-by-side, to ensure the work is done.  Doing so is not leadership.  In fact, it is often called ‘micro-management.’

You can, however, set (or reset, if necessary) expectations for the employee.  You also have consequences, both positive and punitive, for meeting the expectations or not meeting the expectations.  So, accountability looks like this:

E  ->  A   ->  C             Expectations yields Accountability which, in turn, yields Consequences.

As families, we generally understand this relationship.  When a teenager, for example, wants to go out on an upcoming weekend, as parents we set expectations — Where are you going? Who with? Where? What time will be return? And, so forth. When we reach an agreement the weekend is on.  When it comes and the ‘due time’ is approaching, you put your faith the teenagers meeting expectations.  Yet, you aren’t there to Hold them accountable.  Assuming you’ve created a caring family, he/she will be on time thus meeting expectations.  In meeting expectations several (or more) times, the teenager earns the consequences of a later time in an upcoming weekend.  Coming in late multiple times, however, the teenagers suffers the consequences, e.g., grounding, or a loss of privileges.

We understand this in a caring family.  We forget it at work.  Yet, the relationship holds true.

EOS creates a culture of discipline and accountability, and a culture where everyone ‘cares for the group,’ like in a caring family.  Employees know expectations (through both the culture and the EOS tools, such as Rocks, ToDos, etc.).  The EOS system, itself, does the ‘heavy lifting’ identifying in a clear and timely fashion who is meeting (or exceeding) expectations or not.  Leadership owns the resulting consequences – rewards, recognition, promotion, or, conversely, resetting of expectations.  Think how the EOS tools work in concert with this relationship, among others: The Scorecard and its measurements; the Right People in the Right Seats; and the EOS 5-5-5 tool for evaluation (their Role, their Rocks and fit to your Values).

As leadership, you simply own the expectations and you own the consequences.  No more having to ‘hold’ someone accountable; they will step up and be accountable or not.  No more complicated discussions, stress or fretting about accountability; EOS system does the heavy lifting for you.

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