An Accountability Driven Culture

So what really does happen when someone performs brilliantly? Or really poorly? How do they feel? What changes? What causes them to change? How much of it do you control or teach? How much of it is just “in their wiring” ?

All of us have very really sophisticated and effective measurement frameworks, right?. Our KPI’s hang together like those beautiful little Ukrainian eggs that fit nicely inside of one another. Management knows what’s important. Workgroups know what drives the corporate KPI’s. Even the individual worker has his nifty little set of indicators that ultimately link his performance to the corporation’s. Right up that neat little hierarchy we call the performance management architecture or framework. Yeah right !!!.. Dream over.

For a moment though, I want you to assume you have all the basics all down pat. KPI’s are developed and aligned throughout the organization just like I described in my above dream state. Now ask yourself what would happen if someone (an individual, a workgroup, or the organization as a whole) really hit the ball out of the park. Or what if they put the organization in the tank? Would people really “own” their success or failure? Is the organization and its culture really accountable?

While much has been written on the subject of performance measures and reporting, the culture of management accountability gets very little press. We confuse it with everything from compensation and reward systems, to job retention strategies. But even the best of all of these is no substitute for the old fashioned characteristic of accountability.

In its most basic form, accountability means “owning” the results of your actions. It is entrepreneurial in many respects. People with accountability have an “inner voice” that resonates when performance targets are met or come up short. They know their part, and own it. It’s rarely a blame game. They look at what went wrong, what their part in it was, and work diligently to fix it. I see it as an innate human characteristic, and while I believe just about anything can be learned, I just not sure about this one. What I do know is that when its there, it looks like all of the above. And you don’t have to wait for performance breakdowns to find out if it’s there or not. You’ll see it in everyday life. That is, if you’re looking.

So as you navigate your performance management activities, work hard to build the right frameworks, goals, measures, and reward systems. Teach your team how all of this fits together. But remember that there are always those unlearned, innate characteristics that are the seeds of your culture. Without those seeds, accountability will never grow and thrive. Look for those characteristics in the people you hire and grow your staff. With enough of those seeds in place, you’ll start seeing results before you know it…and in time that culture of accountability we all aspire to.


Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at

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