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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Accountability - 1 Word With So Much Impact

When you look up the word accountability in the dictionary you may find a definition that states: "the state of being accountable, liable, or answerable".  This word is a word that presents challenges on projects that I work on and even in my personal life. Holding yourself accountable is hard enough let alone having to hold others accountable. Though you may conduct stakeholder analysis and even outline roles and responsibilities on projects, the execution of accountability is tough. I have found that people shy away from accountability because if something goes wrong they don't want that held over their head or they consider it a blemish to their credibility. However, what's even worse is when you get the reputation of not being accountable which ties back to your character and integrity. If I can't rely on you to deliver what you say you are going to deliver, I get to the point where I can't trust you. To me that's a bigger blemish on you as an individual opposed to you not executing your accountability.  It's better to own the task, feeling, or question due to your accountability opposed to shying away from it.  If you are on a project team and are dealing with a person who never wants to be accountable try the following:

  1. HELP - Help the individual understand why they are the best person to be accountable for the task at hand. If the project team, sponsors or leaders didn't feel they were capable of completing the task they would not have been accountable for it. 
  2. THE WHY - Reiterate the importance of their accountability role and why it's important that he/she own and execute the items for which they are accountable. Explain the risks and/or consequences of what will occur if he/she doesn't follow through. 
  3. RESEARCH- Before giving someone accountability for a task understand past trends of the individual. If the individual has a history of not being accountable you may have to go with someone else.  If you don't an option to go with someone else set clear expectations and give feedback in the moment.
  4. SUPPORT - Provide as much support as you can for the individual to be successful. This may include additional information to help the individual to be accountable. 
  5. MODEL THE BEHAVIOR- Most important - if you are not being accountable for tasks assigned to you, then don't expect any different from those you work with or have relationships with. Practice what you preach and walk the talk.

Accountability is something that is a challenge on projects and in life in general. This word has a lot of tentacles to it as it does define a person's character and integrity. Let your character and integrity separate you from the rest. Hold yourself accountable in all do and execute accordingly.   Also, admit when you mess up because you are human and will make mistakes.


Paula Bell
BA Martial Artist

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