Small Business, LeadershipAccountability always becomes important once the company is on the rocks. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, real accountability comes from you. You are the engine behind your own accountability and fostering accountability in your team. Here are some ways to foster a positive atmosphere of accountability:

Ask questions; stress inquiry. We know that it helps to begin with agreement about goals and then to conduct an inquiry-oriented dialogue: Did you do this, did you try that, and what happened? Questions help people deconstruct the details of performance and consider alternatives without becoming defensive.

Create humiliation-free zones. Performance metrics and reviews should not be intended to “name and shame.” Leaders can provide safe havens in which dialogue can take place without making anyone feel put on the spot, and where difficult issues can be discussed without assigning blame. The goal is to solve problems, not to hurl accusations or tear people down. Creating such a positive climate calls for a matter-of-fact, objective manner: assume that people want to do the right thing and that data help them know what the right thing is.

Break big goals into specific elements. Analyzing the details that accumulate to produce either failure or success can make it easier to identify steps for improvement — and also make it likely that people can feel proud of the things they already do well. The best performers pay attention to discrete actions rather than sweeping generalizations. This also makes it easier to find strengths as well as weaknesses.

Model accountability. It builds confidence in leaders when they name problems that everyone knows are there, put performance data on the table for everyone to see, and refuse to shift responsibility to some nameless “them.” When leaders accept responsibility (for example, by sharing their own performance ratings), it helps other people get over their fear of exposure and humiliation.

The only true accountability is the accountability we expect of ourselves, and it is directly tied to ourincreased personal effectiveness and an improved professional presence in every situation.



Learn more about personal accountability here, at Employee Development Systems, Inc.

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