Here are 7 Special Ways to Accelerate Accountability and Save Yourself a Lot of Time, Energy, and Money


1) Stop trying to take responsibility for other people. You are only responsible for yourself.

We are all 100% responsible for our intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions.

We are not responsible for anyone else’s intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions.

What other people do or don’t do is none of your business. Get over it.

The great paradox is that the more you take full responsibility for yourself, the more others will follow your example.

2) Destroy job descriptions and create role clarity statements

Most job descriptions I see are a list of tasks. Often “and anything else as directed” appears in the fine print. Very rarely is there anything concrete about relationships which are key to accountability. We don’t let down people we have great relationships with.

Get rid of all job descriptions that don’t properly articulate relationships, particularly the people role/s serve and what value must be delivered to them.

Create role clarity statements with people not for them. Here is a template.

What I have done a number of times with my clients is to create an operating structure based on a supplier-customer chain as a big picture, then put roles for people into the structure, and then matched people to roles. Do this exercise yourself. You will find a lot of roles should be made redundant, a lot of people would be better in a different role, and that you are nowhere near as effective and efficient as you think you are.

Involve your people in this exercise and you will revolutionize your business and likely the lives of many of your people. You will also see a great rise in people being engaged and accountable.

3) Invest time, energy, and money, every day in ensuring you have a shared-view with your employees and/or performance partners about

where you are (reality)

where you're going (possibility)

why you're going there (purpose)

how you will get there (strategy)

who will do what and when (execution)

how you will know you are on track (milestones and lead measures)

how you will behave along the way (values)

4) Stop appraising people instead have appreciation and accountability conversations with them

In the Australian Financial Review of 5th March 2014 I was drawn to the headline “Performance reviews get a bad rap from business” In the article Jon Williams of PwC Australia is quoted “It doesn’t improve performance. It’s just a bureaucratic system that everyone thinks they have to go through.” I couldn’t agree more.

I have been reading articles like this for decades. We are not learning.

If you have an appraisal or performance review system get rid of it.

Instead have what’s worth celebrating and what could be better conversations with people informally as a part of every day work. At least every 90 days formalise the conversations and help people to create a performance plan for themselves for the next 90 days around how they will keep doing what’s worth celebrating and correct what could be better. 

People do not want to be appraised or reviewed, they want to be appreciated and helped to be accountable. When your people have performance plans as overviewed above, have conversations like those below with them. When conversations about performance are happening properly and are integral to every day work, performance reviews and appraisals become redundant and you will finally be able to bury them.

The Double A Technique (page 165 of my Changing What’s Normal book)

Ask: “How are things going?” 

When you get a positive response:  

Ask: “How does that make you feel?” 

(be quiet and pay attention) 

Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate. 

Then ask: “Any other areas I can help you with?” 

(be quiet and pay attention) 

When you get a negative response 

Ask: “What happened?” (be quiet and pay attention) 

Then Ask: “What do you need to do to get back on track?” 

(be quiet and pay attention) 

Then Ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you?” 

(be quiet and pay attention) 

Finally, Ask: “Anything else?” 

(be quiet and pay attention)

The above conversation is a basic starting place. To inspire accountability leaders need to excel at all kinds of communication and conversation.

A key is overcoming a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty. 

“Managers Lack Courage to Have Difficult Performance Discussions” so said 63% of 750 respondents WorldatWork/Sibson 2010 Study on The State of Performance Management.

The same study says “58% of organizations rated their performance management systems as “C Grade or below.” 

“Is there any organizational practice more broken than performance management?  Asks Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith in an article for Forbes 16/12/12.  She goes on to say:

“everyone hates it – employees and managers alike nobody does it well – it’s a skill that seemingly fails to be acquired despite exhaustive training efforts, and it fails the test of construct validity – it doesn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. increase performance.

Traditional performance management programs have become organization wallpaper. They exist in the background with little or no expectations for impact. Yet despite its poor popularity, the concept of performance (at an individual and organizational level) is critical to business success. It can’t just be ignored.”

If you are struggling to have authentic, candid conversations with your employees, you are not alone. Don’t be embarrassed. Admit your shortcomings and get help today.

5) Stop trying to manage people. Instead lead people and manage systems and processes

People management is a hangover from the long dead industrial revolution, the great dehumanizer, where we saw people as cogs in a giant machine. We all have a headache as result of this crap. People can’t be managed. We are, each one of us, a unique human being who needs to be treated as such. Lead people. Manage systems and processes.

It won’t be long before you will have a clear head and a warmer heart. Productivity you have dreamed about will follow.

6) Ensure there is not a mismatch between what science knows and your business does

In a beautiful book “Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates us’, Daniel Pink says we are motivated by 3 things:

·        Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives

·        Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters

·        Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

He also says “There is a mismatch between what science knows and business does.”

What have you read lately in the fields of positive psychology, neuroscience, and biology, just to name three sciences. A lot of how we see and treat people in business is way out of step with what science is telling us. The evidence is overwhelming. Are you out of touch? or Are you in step?

7) Understand your real reason for being in business and be accountable to that

Profit is not a reason for being in business, profit is a result of being good at business.

What’s your real reason for being in business. If you don’t know, watch this Start With Why video from Simon Sinek.  If you still can’t work it out, please contact me and I will help you. Don’t be embarrassed if answering this question is eluding you. It is a tough one to answer.


My belief is that if we are honest we must admit that the way we’re working in most organisations isn’t working. We need maverick thinking followed by a radical transformation of the way we work.

I hope this article has got you going.

The cost of a lack of accountability in terms of time, energy, and money is significant for most businesses. Change what’s normal by adapting the insights above

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Ian Berry CSP


Ian Berry is a writer and international business speaker with unique expertise in why doing good is great for business.

You may also like:

Filed under Personal Development. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on