By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching at Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Photo Credit: @bakerbroductions
There is a story you may have heard of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it.
Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Does this shortened version of a poem by Charles Osgood resonate with what goes on in your business? Then ask yourself if you are setting a positive example. Do you follow through, meet deadlines and take ownership of your work – in other words do you do what you expect of others?
Being accountable definitely extends to your clients. It is the sign of leadership when you take accountability for problems that arise. Though you aren’t responsible for outside conditions such as goods being damaged en route, fabric delays, etc., you can show leadership and keep your clients informed immediately when there are challenges. Even better, be prepared with a Plan B.
How many times have you been more irritated with the fact that no one told you about a delay than you are about the delay itself? It is also a reason that you want to build strong relationships with your external team – industry resources who are reliable and are themselves accountable.
Being accountable for your own actions and those of your team, will gain you the trust of your clients. Mistakes happen, but it’s how people react when they have made a mistake that is important. Own it and offer a solution and you will show that you are honest and have integrity.
Being accountable yourself also helps to create a culture of accountability for your team. But don’t expect everyone on your team to automatically follow your lead. You need to have processes and procedures in place to firmly establish the culture of accountability for your firm.
Establish expectations to clarify what “good” performance is and what it isn’t.
Obtain definite commitment – do not just assume you have it because you discussed it. Ask for their commitment and then ask what needs to happen for them to make that commitment. Beware phrases like “I’ll try”. You need team members who step up to the plate and own their mistake and then immediately start working on a solution.
Be sure to “inspect what you expect”. This action shows you care about the job they’re doing. By following up you may help them get back on track if needed, or offer praise on the job they have done.
Finally, be sure to provide feedback as well as consequences. By doing so you are reinforcing the importance of their job. Let them know if they’re not meeting expectations and how to course correct. Commend work that exceeds expectations. If someone’s work is repeatedly below expectations, establish consequences. Without consequences, there is no accountability.
So be a response-able leader and follow the advice of Steven Covey: “Accountability breeds response-ability. “