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August 20th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz  Posted in Career Advice, In the Workplace

AccountablilityIt doesn’t take a genius to look around our world and see that it’s sorely lacking in accountability. People in both prominent and obscure situations say and do the strangest things, and rarely are they held fully accountable.

That’s a real problem, particularly in the practical worlds of jobs, business, and the professions, but also in human relations.

Whether you’re leading a team or simply managing your own life, you can kick up the levels of effectiveness, responsibility, and success by practicing (and where possible, encouraging in others) meaningful accountability.

Here are some guidelines to help you:

Stop Ducking Responsibility

We live in an intertwined world, so it’s rare that a simple, single cause (”I overslept”) can result in a problem, a missed deadline, or a lost opportunity. Sure, it can happen. But, it doesn’t have to happen to you.

Practice accountability by taking meaningful steps to honor your commitments and live up to your responsibilities. If you take these seriously enough, you can be pretty sure you’ll never have to say “it’s entirely my fault”.

Set Up Accountable Situations

Airplane maintenance is a wonderful example of how to set up an accountable situation. Every maintenance procedure is clearly spelled out, and every mechanic who performs a procedure must attest to what he or she did with a signed and dated form. Many procedures also require a supervisor to check the work and sign to affirm his or her approval.

If you’re not in a life-and-death situation, you may not need such a rigorous, formal system. But you increase accountability when you have a plan of action with clear steps to be followed, and when you are careful to follow that plan. It’s even more accountable to have multiple layers of inspection and supervision.

With such a plan in place, results can more easily be traced back to the plan, and to everyone who implemented it. Whether the results are positive or negative, there’s clear accountability.

Marshal Adequate Resources

A big part of achieving your goals is making sure you have the necessary resources - funding, tools, time, talent, information, and so forth - to get where you want to go. That’s why a significant aspect of accountability is proper provisioning at each stage of the plan.

Trying to dig a large hole, for example, is much more difficult without a shovel. It’s important that you think to bring one along, or that you be provided one by your manager. And whether or not you succeed in digging a satisfactory hole, the availability of the necessary resources should be part of your “after action accountability.”

Engage With Your Responsibilities

When you’re doing what you love, you’re giving your best effort. When you’re working on a task - or with a team or a manager - you don’t like, you’re probably giving somewhat less than your best.

But no matter what the situation, you’re accountable for the quality of your work.

Clearly, it’s impossible to do what you love every minute. But you can nevertheless find reasons to take pride in what you are doing, to find common ground with the other people working on the task, and to recognize your effort as an expression of your values and priorities.

All these are emotional triggers that tend to make a person feel more accountable for accomplishing the right thing in the right way. Cultivate these triggers, and you’ll be more likely to feel accountable for everything you do.
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Tags: at-work, professionalism, advice, career-advice, career-growth, leadership
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