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Why Do We Complicate Accountability?

Written by David Norman on September 20, 2018

EOS Leadership Accountability Company Culture

EOS® is all about focus, discipline and accountability and appropriately so. Successful organizations have all three. Lacking any one, the organizational results suffer.

Yet, accountability is often misunderstood and misused. In our everyday business language we say things like, “Go hold him/her accountable,” or words to that effect. The problem is that you can’t hold anyone accountable. You can’t be there, as if you two were working side by side to ensure the work is done. Doing so is not leadership. In fact, it is often called micromanagement.

boost-accountabilitySet the Expectations

You can, however, set (or reset, if necessary) expectations for the employee. You also have consequences, both positive and punitive, for meeting the expectations or not meeting the expectations.

As families, we generally understand this relationship. When a teenager, for example, wants to go out on an upcoming weekend, we set expectations as parents: Where are you going? With whom? What time will you return? When we reach an agreement, the weekend is on. When it comes and the due home time is approaching, you put your faith in the teenager meeting your expectations. Yet you aren’t there to hold them accountable. Assuming you’ve created a caring family, he/she will be on time thus meeting expectations.

In meeting expectations several (or more) times, the teenager earns the privilege of a later due home time on a future weekend. However, when returning late multiple times, the teenagers suffers the consequences, e.g., grounding or a loss of privileges. We understand this in a caring family. We forget it at work. Yet the relationship holds true.

Own the Expectations

EOS creates a culture of discipline and accountability, a culture in which everyone cares for the group as in a caring family. Employees know expectations through both the culture and the EOS tools, such as Rocks and To Dos. EOS helps to identify in a clear and timely fashion who is meeting (or exceeding) expectations or not. Leadership owns the resulting consequences – rewards, recognition, promotion  or conversely, the resetting of expectations. Think about how the EOS tools work in concert with this relationship, among others: the Scorecard and its measurements; the Right People in the Right Seats; and the EOS 5-5-5™ tool for evaluation (their Core Values; the 5 Roles in their seat on the Accountability Chart; and their Rocks).

As leadership, you simply own the expectations and you own the consequences. No more having to hold someone accountable. They will step up and be accountable or not. No more complicated discussions, stress or fretting about accountability. EOS does the heavy lifting for you.

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