It’s true that optimizing operations and re-imagining your business strategy can help organizations see better top-line results. Unfortunately, these approaches often fall short because they only address employee behaviors, and not the underlying mindsets that drive these behaviors.
Ensuring sustained success requires a more challenging proposition: improving accountability in the workplace.
Accountability, according to the New York Times bestseller The Oz Principle, is the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve desired results.” In alignment with this definition, achieving true accountability in the workplace depends on every employee’s personal and proactive commitment to delivering on team and organization-wide objectives.
So how do you, as a leader, improve accountability across your organization — and in turn, drive better topline results?
Build Around Key Results
According to the results of our Workplace Accountability Study, 9 out of 10 senior executive teams do not effectively clarify their organizations’ top priorities — leaving employees with a vague sense of direction and little understanding of how their daily actions impact organizational performance.
To compound this issue, nearly 85% of employees say that their company’s priorities are constantly shifting. One month, the company’s focus may be driving sales, while the next it may be funneling resources into better product development. When priorities regularly change, employees do not feel a sense of connection to the overall mission of the organization — and are thus are more likely to disengage from their work, hindering productivity on the whole.
Before leaders can effectively improve accountability in the workplace and lift top-line results, they must ensure that every employee knows exactly what objectives they are working towards. When employees are given clear targets and are able to see how their everyday duties contribute to the success or failure of Key Results — the three to five top-line results that the organization must deliver on in order to achieve success — they feel a deeper sense of purpose and pride in their work.
As such, it is the leadership team’s responsibility to identify and clarify the organization’s Key Results. These results should be communicated and reinforced across the organization by leaders at every level, guaranteeing that each and every employee understands and feels connected to the company’s primary objectives.
Master The Results Pyramid
Even if leaders have clearly defined and articulated the organization’s Key Results, they may not be able to improve accountability in the workplace until they understand the causal relationship between every employee’s experiences, beliefs, and actions.
According to the evidence-based Partners In Leadership model known as The Results Pyramid®, experiences shape personal beliefs, which in turn, influence actions. Finally, actions drive results — whether good or bad. As such, bolstering top-line results begins at the bottom layers of the pyramid: by purposefully shaping employees’ experiences and beliefs.
Take this example: a major healthcare organization was experiencing a worrying rate of medical errors and near-misses due to operational inconsistencies. In an attempt to curb these high error rates, the organization introduced a new initiative requiring two layers of patient name and treatment verification. This regulation created a new experience for intake employees by introducing a new step into their workflow.
In turn, the initiative promoted the cultural belief of patient safety by stressing the importance of verifying patient information. By following the new initiative and integrating the belief of safety into her daily work, a practitioner was able to catch a near-miss when one patient — who shared the same name as another patient — was called in for the wrong treatment. Because the practitioner took action to verify the patient’s full name and treatment plan, she was able to avoid a potentially dangerous mistake and achieve better healthcare safety results for the organization.
This example demonstrates that when leaders build experiences and beliefs that support their desired results, they are able to effectively cultivate higher levels of accountability in the workplace and ultimately, deliver on Key Results.
Maximize Accountability in the Workplace
When leaders clearly establish Key Results and understand the critical importance of the Results Pyramid®, they are prepared to improve accountability in the workplace.
Taking the cue of the healthcare organization that introduced new initiatives to shape cultural beliefs that in turn propelled meaningful action toward Key Results, leaders must focus on creating new experiences for employees. Whether it be a new set of regulations or an organization-wide training series, the experience must be purposefully designed to improve employees’ abilities to recognize the gaps between existing and desired results, take psychological ownership of the problems and potential solutions, employ creative problem-solving to close critical gaps, and fulfill their promise to deliver on Key Results.