How to Achieve Workplace Accountability-Introduction

This is the first in a series of “How to” blog posts that will show you how to implement an accountability system. My objective for this post is to provide an overview of the system, to introduce relevant concepts, and begin the first lesson. So let’s get started.

As a manager/leader, you hire people, Employees, to do a job. In order to do their job they must perform certain Tasks. As they perform the tasks, they use a variety of Processes which enable them to produce critical outputs, or Work Products. The work they produce contributes to achieving their Goals. If they achieve their goals then you, as their manager, are more likely to achieve your goals. These elements together create an accountability system that looks like this:

Employees > Tasks > Processes > Work Products > Goals

The Business of Accountabilityâ„¢

As you can see, there is more to accountability than goal setting and a rewards and recognition program. We will take a step-by-step approach that you can easily follow, and then implement in your own time frame. We will work our way backwards through the system, starting with the Goals. Here’s why.

Over the years I have been tasked by managers to provide training for their employees that would help them achieve their goals. Too often, training provided only short-term results because a problem existed elsewhere in the system. For example, providing sales training to salespeople to help them close more deals only to discover there was no well-defined sales process in place to track opportunities. An employee can’t be held accountable when obstacles exist that are outside their control. An accountability system provides a framework and foundation for setting goals, monitoring progress, and measuring results.

First, let’s talk about the Goals. Goals are typically given to an employee by their manager. For example, my manager gives me my goals for the year and I, in turn, give each of my employees their goals. Goals can be measured in numbers, percentages, or dollars. Examples include:

  • Increase production to _____ number (#) of widgets
  • Improve profit margin by _____ percent (%)
  • Increase Net Promoter Score from _____ (#) to ______ (#)
  • Decrease cost of sales by ______ percent (%)
  • Attain _______ revenue dollars ($)
  • Increase customer retention by ______ percent (%)

Often, actions and tasks are confused for goals. They are important, but may belong on a “To Do List.” Actions and tasks are more appropriately measured by observation for performance proficiency, effectiveness, and efficiency.

Next, let’s talk about Work Products. Work Products are the knowledge workers’ equivalent to widgets. They are tangible outputs that are used, reviewed, aggregated, and evaluated because they contribute to achieving business results. Examples of tangible work products include: reports, plans, schedules, charts, graphs, presentations, and executive summaries. For example, a salesperson submits a monthly territory sales forecast report to her manager who includes it in his district forecast report which tracks progress for the company’s overall sales goal.

If you’d like to participate, your first assignment is to do two things in preparation for the next step. 1. Review your goals and each employee’s goals to ensure they are really goals and not a “to do” list. And 2. make a list of the tangible work products you are required to produce for your manager and those that you require from your employees. We will use the lists in our next step. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need help. I can be reached at

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