Common Grounds: 4 As of Team: Accountability and Adherence

At times, each is solely accountable

Identification of the most common team structure (See Prior Article) allows you to define the beginning steps toward the productive and pleasant work environment you desire. It won’t be easy. Shop mentalities build over time. They don’t change overnight. They don’t change without strong resistance. Resistance is not a bad item. It just is. Change is painful. Who wants pain? You do. You must change to reach the place of pleasant productivity you crave. There is a freedom in a productive team that makes life enjoyable.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Courage and Consequence

Courage and Consequence: This is the team you want. Empowered staff makes good decisions, takes good action, thinks good thoughts, embraces excellence in operations, and follows right process and procedure and policy. Wow? Who is in charge of this utopia? You are. Vision, mission, and plans guide accomplishment of key organizational objectives.  It is achievable, enjoyable, and realistic.

Accountability: Absent in many teams is fair accountability. Sure, you might have erratic accountability or skewed accountability, but do you have fair accountability? Fair accountability includes up-to-date job descriptions with room for growth. Fair accountability includes up-to-date shop policy and procedure and processes with identified measurements of success at low, medium and high levels.  Fair accountability includes allowances for exceptions with appropriate discretionary latitude at the lowest point of decision making. Fair accountability includes identifiable career path.

Adherence: Alongside accountability is adherence to policy and procedure. When the accountability lies outside the individual team member for her actions you find shop standards slipping, waste unacceptable, and constant angst with little improvement. Why adhere to procedure if no one cares or checks equitably? You need firm adherence to clear and communicated process, policy, and procedure to run alongside accountability.

Check Up on Accountability:

Plus Checks: Are all key shop processes identified and process owners acknowledged and empowered? Are all procedures up-to-date with present software, equipment, and expected people skills? Is there a skills inventory and signoff by responsible staff for each process for which they are responsible? Do you have a training plan for each member of the team for cross training and extra support?

Minus Checks: Are staff members allowed to continually bypass procedures during “hot” jobs? Do you have known team members who are incompetent in some assigned duties required for their role? Are some team members constantly covering for others?

Transition Approaches for Each Dysfunction to Courage and Consequence:

Command and Control: Begin with a process inventory. Identify team members who will be owners of each process. Require delegation with increasing levels of responsibility for procedures and policies. This will start the communication to the entire team that you are serious.

Laissez Faire: Begin with procedures. Identify consequences to customers of not following the flow. Managers communicate to the team the impact on customers in a matter of fact manner. Begin to win their hearts to service.

Helicopter Micro Management: Begin with results reports for feedback. Pull back the micro manger one key result at a time. Implement 10-2-4 checks against reasonable expectations that are results oriented not operation oriented. Make sure your customers get good work while decreasing over site of mundane tasks.

                Staff Rules: When coming from Staff Rules begin with procedures created by the staff. Don’t rob them of power. Focus their energy. Identify process owners who are final signoff on procedures in their areas. Delegate clearly and communicate changes to the entire team in person where possible and by email only in emergencies.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

Fear Factors: Moving into accountability and adherence in a shop increases fear. The prior system is predictable. People fear losing predictability. They greatly fear being held accountable until they experience living with it and receiving results. Fear can result in many types of resistance. “No one ever told me.” “Who made that decision?” “That’s not what I read.” “______ is responsible.” “That’s not the job I was hired to do.” As an executive, director, or manager, you have to provide clear, communicated, and consistent response to these reactions to slowly eliminate fear. It will rise. You need to manage the fear without retreat.


ROI/ROECOMMON GROUNDS: These tidbits come out of daily consternations, comments, and concerns of real managers doing what needs done. Executives gain insight.


This article focuses on the Be Responsible triad of the operational pyramid.


Let’s talk: Phil Larson or Shepherd Consulting OK

Published by Phil Larson

Community leader, business leader, writer, dad, friend, amigo, hermano. Passionate about every activity in which I choose to participate.

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