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Accountability by Design – Culture Driven Accountability

culture drieven accountability

So far in this blog series, we have covered how consequences, processes and strong leadership work together to create an accountable by design organisation. In this article, we will talk about the fourth driver – culture.

Unlike the previous three drivers that can be governed by the organisation, culture driven accountability is often quite slippery. If not systematically defined, practiced and consciously spoken about, it may be determined entirely by the behaviour of the employees – whether or not this is what was desired in the first place. For this reason, it is crucial to define the desired culture at an organisational level – one that actively promotes accountable behaviour – and proactively drive the same.

Here are five key aspects you should look to build in to your culture when building an accountable by design organisation.

1. Create a result-focused approach:

Organisational cultures often tend to lean more towards being effort focused, rather than result focused. This results in people setting activities instead of goals (Call 20 potential clients as opposed to Acquire 2 new clients). Activities do not necessarily result in success or high performance. While it is important to encourage people to do their best and recognise the effort they put in, accountability and performance will only grow if they are expected to deliver on the final result.

2. Encourage peer influence:

A culture strong on peer influence is one where the employees freely question their team members to ensure that work is done as per the expectations. Employees feel accountable not towards the management but towards each other, and mutually drive each other to perform.

3. Credit-sharing is key:

Try to create a culture where everyone is quick to give credit where credit is due. This happens when the focus is on the larger goals being achieved and not just on the individual work being done. Help your employees understand that openly stating that they were helped by others does not take away from their own efforts towards the final result. Praise, recognition and appreciation should not feel like a limited pie.

4. Build a culture of trust:

Unfortunately, it is very common for employees to keep information and resources from one other in the fear that others will get ahead. It is important for your employees to understand that sharing knowledge, asking for help and stepping in for each other will only help the organisation grow and prosper. A culture of trust is built when everyone knows that they will be appreciated and acknowledged for their contribution to achieving the larger goal.

5. Finally, push for collaboration:

This is a little counter-intuitive because popular accountability literature suggests that there should always be one person in charge of a particular task to avoid diffusion of responsibility. While this is true, if you are able to successfully build a culture strong on peer influence, credit sharing and trust, employees will be more than willing to collaborate with each other to get the job done, even when there is one person in charge of the task.

There’s a common misconception that cultures just happen to an organisation, however, this is far from true. Cultures need to be defined, taught, monitored and constantly spoken about. Employees need to know what is expected of them in various scenarios and the appropriate behaviours to demonstrate. With time and care, this will become an ingrained part of the organisation, with every new employee seamlessly fitting into the flow of things. This seamless fitting is what defines an accountable by design organisation.

In our next and final article in this series, we will talk about the last driver – person driven accountability – to address the softer training needs that may need to be passed on systematically to every employee.