Accountability and transparency are crucial components of a high-functioning team. They pave the way for trust, efficiency, and overall success.
When individuals understand their responsibilities and the expectations set for them, it creates a culture of ownership and transparency.
Here are essential strategies to cultivate these qualities within your team, and a classic example of how to create accountability with clear expectations.
How Do You Ensure Accountability and Transparency
In my early days leading teams and companies I made more mistakes than I could ever cover in a blog. Yet one skill I struggled with most was the notion of accountability. When I gave directions, jobs weren’t done as desired. When I set context, why didn’t people have the same view of the world as me? Why didn’t they get why I was asking them to do what we were doing—did they not realize it mattered? Worse, did they simply ignore me?
I would experience missed deadlines, misaligned definition of success and a mountain of work that felt like a mess. I was telling people what I wanted, yet the results I desired weren’t happening.
Then one day it clicked. I was telling people what I wanted, not setting the expectations I had of the work, and why it mattered.
The moment that penny dropped, my leadership overall got exponentially better. I’ll give you a trivial example of a breakthrough I had.
Accountability Is Not A Default, It’s A Setting
Firstly, I had to learn how to be very clear about what I wanted. For an assignment, a project or role—I needed to make sure the individual heard my expectations.
An example from when I start working with someone might be, “I expect you to send me a report every Friday on the week’s activities.” On the first Friday, the person didn’t send the report, when I saw them on Monday I’d say, “Hey Barry, I didn’t see the report on Friday, where are you at with it?”. I’d expect a reply along the lines of, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about it. I’ll get it to you.”
At that moment I would also underline the why behind the what I’m asking for, “Listen Barry, I may not have been clear why that’s important to me. But I use those reports to really understand what’s going on in the business, and you and your team play a really critical role. It’s not just makeup work. This is really important to me.”
What I was doing is making the situation my responsibility for not setting context or making it clear to the person the importance for why I’m asking them to do this.
Then I can say, “Are you clear Barry? Does everything make sense?” They would go, “Yes, I got it.” Now the next time they forget to send the report I can hold them accountable as we’ve a shared responsibility and expectation of why the report is important.
Accountability is not a default setting. You can’t hold someone accountable if you set the expectation, and buy-in on both sides to the responsibility.
These tiny tweaks in my behavior helped me unlearn what I thought accountability was, and relearned how to set expectations, foster accountability and transparency within teams.
Give these mindset and behavior shift a try to help you get exponentially better at fostering accountability and transparency within teams;
1. Clear Expectations as the Foundation
Setting clear expectations is the cornerstone of accountability. When team members have a crystal-clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and goals, it becomes easier for them to deliver.
It’s essential to communicate these expectations openly, ensuring everyone comprehends their individual and collective objectives. This clarity helps in aligning actions with organizational goals.
2. Establishing Accountability Frameworks
Create frameworks that support accountability. Implement tools and systems that enable tracking progress, measuring goals, and fostering a sense of responsibility.
Regular check-ins, performance evaluations, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are effective ways to assess accountability. Tools such as organizational alignment, product management software or task trackers can aid in visualizing progress.
3. Cultivate Open Communication
Transparency thrives on open and honest communication. Encourage an environment where team members feel safe to express opinions, voice concerns, and share progress updates.
Regular team retrospectives, one-on-one sessions, and open-door policies promote a culture where transparency becomes a norm rather than an exception.
4. Lead by Example
Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping a culture of accountability and transparency. When leaders exhibit these qualities themselves, unlearn what holds them back, and set the tone for the entire team.
Leaders should demonstrate their commitment to transparency, openly communicate their expectations, and hold themselves accountable for their actions. This behavior sets a standard for others to follow.
5. Continuous Learning and Development
Encourage a growth mindset within the team. Foster an environment where learning and improvement are celebrated.
Investing in workshops, coaching, or bringing in external support like Outlier Venture Partners, can offer new perspectives and strategies for enhancing accountability within the team.
6. Constructive Feedback Mechanisms
Constructive feedback is invaluable in the journey towards accountability. Encourage feedback loops that focus on improvement rather than criticism.
Providing guidance, praise for good work, and constructive criticism for areas of improvement can foster a culture where team members feel supported and understand the importance of their actions.
Building a culture of accountability and transparency is an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication.
By establishing clear expectations, utilizing effective communication, and encouraging continuous learning, teams can create an environment where accountability and transparency become the norm, not the exception.
By integrating these strategies into your team dynamics, you lay a strong foundation for a culture where every member feels responsible, informed, and valued, leading to greater success and accomplishments.