Ending Entitlement & Building an Accountability Culture

Holding people accountable has two major components, and neither one can be ignored. The first is setting clear expectations; the second is calling people out when they don't live up to those expectations.

The accountability problem starts with the owner/manager... to quote the old Italian proverb "the fish stinks from the head down". What message does it send when you tell somebody that they must do something and then failed to address their behavior when they don't do it.

Lack of follow-through is the sign of lack of personal accountability and your employees will see the telltale signs and act accordingly. I remember when I first left Barclays Bank and I came to the US to run the New York City jury of an English company. I was working for highly unfocused entrepreneurs, and they would come over from time to time and tell me to do all kinds of things that I didn't really agree with NU that we didn't have the resources to deal with them anyway.

After the first time when I ran around trying to do all the things that they had told me to do and then couldn't even get them on the phone to report back to them, I realized that there was a different way to manage these people. When I started to do was to agree, identify the things that seemed to be the most important and ignore all the harebrained schemes that they thought up when they came over.

It worked, and I was effectively managing my bosses by ignoring them except in so far as what they wanted to do matched my own agenda. I would suggest that you really don't want your employees behaving this way -- isn't the role of management to control and direct? If you fail to observe the two major components of setting clear expectations and calling people out when they fall short then you are allowing them to manage you and you have, essentially abrogated the management function.

Your employees are your company and not holding them accountable is a major mistake.