Friday, March 12, 2010

Nobody Ever 'Splained it That Way Before

A critical dimension of management is accountability. I recently heard a business owner clearly explain accountability, reminding me of a phrase that we in the South use, "Nobody ever 'splained it that way before."

This owner was having trouble getting a senior manager to understand that he (the senior manager) was fully accountable for the actions, successes and failures of his subordinate managers. He was getting responses like, "I told Frank to do that", as if telling Frank something somehow absolved him of accountability. Sound familiar?

This isn't unusual. We've evolved to an ever-less accountable society -- a nearly epidemic decline of accountability, including (among others) elected officials, celebrities, educational systems, companies and families. Is it any wonder that otherwise capable people come into your workforce, not understanding the basics of accountability?

Then take that up one level. When you promote people who don't have a really good grasp on accountability, they don't natively grasp that they're now accountable for not only themselves but also everyone who works for them -- all the way to the bottom of the organizational ladder.

So, how did this somewhat exasperated owner 'splain it a different way? He said, "Don't let those people lose your job for you." Despite its negative spin, what a concept! The performance of the people who report to you is not only the key to your success, but also has the potential to do you in.

Now, this only really works if you adhere to the same rules of accountability. The number 1 hardest rule is to not undermine either the accountability or authority of your managers by "managing around them." If you're looking for accountability from a manager, then when one of his or her reports (someone within their organizational responsibility) needs correction or re-direction, do it through the accountable manager. Tell him or her the problem, and expect it to be taken care of. Praise is different -- if you catch someone doing something good, mention it on the spot, and then tell or email their manager to compliment them, as well.

Do you have some ways you've stepped up accountability in your company? Please click "Comments" below and share them with others.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

1 comment:

  1. Great article! The difference between a manager and an executive or director has to be that they have and take actions to deliver results, both within and across their accountability and the company.

    As an intreviewer, one of the questions I have found that most confuses job applicants who claim higher titles, is "and what were you accountable for, and given budget to deliver."

    In modern management theory, things get delegetaed downwards. Accountability never does, even if you do delegate.


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