Successful teams require the presence of both concrete and abstract elements. Recently, I wrote of the soft , more abstract side of team building, (see “The Soft & Essential Side of Team Building”). This article will focus on one of the more concrete elements of a highly successful team – personal accountability.
It may seem out of place to speak of individual or personal accountability when referring to teams, however, individuals are building blocks of the team. To attempt to create a team with inferior and weak building blocks is synonymous with building your home on clay. As to accountability, developing an individual’s almost instinctive drive to commit to doing what they say, when they say and to the extent to which they have committed is critical to a team’s success. The goal is to develop an environment in which the next time a team member commits to reading a report, returning a phone call, responding to an email or changing a behavior, that other colleagues will know – it will be done!
Perhaps seeming to be counterintuitive, accountability training and becoming more personally responsible can be extraordinarily motivating. Part of that motivation stems from employees’ realization of the extent to which they can become involved in their future. Today, data suggest that greater than seventy percent of the workforce in the United States, work in organizations, some small, some large; however, regardless of the size of the organization there is one clear fact facing the employee – there will be countless decisions made about the employee for the employee and outside the employee’s control that will directly effect the employee and their families. Some of these decision will have to do with job security, job location, compensation and still others may have to do with job requirements. As an employee, it is important that we find some level of comfort with such decisions being made outside our control. This is where accountability training can help.
Accountability training results in employees displaying greater confidence in knowing that whatever decision is made by their organization, or more immediately their manager, the participant will have been involved in actions which would allow them to better take care of themselves and their families. This confidence stems from the daily initiative of becoming personally responsible for the training, education, motivation and if the necessary, any communication believed to be needed in order to succeed in an ever-changing environment.
Individuals will not be asking why they are not being provided new training, but rather promoting dialogue with their supervisors to acquire the necessary training. Individuals stop waiting for direction and begin actively seeking direction; additionally, individuals begin taking more responsibility for personal motivation and relying less on their supervisor, company or others for becoming more inspired and committed. These are only a sampling of behaviors that can stem from becoming more personally accountable, and the even better news – the result of becoming more personally responsible and accountable not only impacts our professional success but also carries over into our personal lives.
A new set of assumptions, expectations and behaviors may be required to achieve greater levels of success. Developing new assumptions and behaviors is many times difficult and sometimes not initially welcomed. Good accountability programs are developed to instill confidence through providing a road map in which participants become more personally accountable for both the organization and their own personal success.
About the author: Charlie Selcer has provided organizations with employee training and development through Strictly Success Inc. for over 15 years. Strictly Success is a U.S. based employee training company for both the public and private sectors including some of America’s Fortune 1000 companies. Strictly Success specializes in high performance teams and teambuilding, employee motivation, employee accountability and change management.