Accountability – To get better results, ask better questions!

Accountability – much talked about and little practiced. Increasing accountability in your organization is a great New Year’s resolution. But, if your corporate culture doesn’t have a few key behaviors, the discipline of accountability will remain elusive in your organization. These behaviors fall into two basic cultural mandates.

The mandates? Support honesty and respect more than fear. Value questions as much as answers.

First, honesty and respect. If your culture supports this mandate, you’ll see the behaviors listed below in your team.

Team members:
(1) Are willing to say “I don’t know.”
(2) Don’t get “beat up” for bringing news you don’t want to hear.
(3) Admit mistakes.
(4) Apologize when appropriate and accept others’ apologies readily.
(5) Listen to what others have to say.
(6) Take on tough issues directly rather than going around the problem.

Second, valuing questions as much as answers. Good questions are essential to high quality decision-making, learning, and accountability for results.

Here are some questions that are especially useful in supporting accountability.
(1) When a new goal is set, ask “Where will that increase in revenue come from?” or “How will our competitors likely react to the new marketing campaign?”
(2) When a project schedule is moved up, ask “How will you meet that target date?” or “What is the first milestone where we’ll know if we’re on target?”
(3) When production delays arise, ask “How is this different from our other plants?” or “What has changed from last month?”

As Larry Bossidy says in the book, “Execution,” “The leader who executes often does not even have to tell people what to do; she asks questions so they can figure out what they need to do.”

Asking “how” questions like those listed above will enhance your ability to hold members of your team accountable and that’s key to achieving superior execution.

Try this action tip to enhance accountability in your team. In your next staff meeting, ask team members to find opportunities to ask “how” something will get done instead of just whether or when it will get done. Lead the way by coming prepared with plenty of your own “how” questions. This doesn’t need to be an aggressive challenge, just an “inquiring mind.”

Two key mandates for accountability: Support honesty and respect more than fear. Value questions as much as answers.

If you can get your culture firmly supporting these two mandates, accountability, results, and success will come much more readily.