Creating Accountability in Your Small Business

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Roger Engelau Roger Engelau

Ever feel like you’re the only one with a sense of accountability for the success of your business? At West Point, an early and clear lesson I learned is that a leader is accountable for everything that happens or fails to happen in his unit. For me, that’s the ultimate statement of accountability.

Translated to small business, that means that you, the business owner, is accountable for creating accountability in your team members!

The leader is accountable for everything that happens or fails to happen

That’s the ultimate statement of accountability. If you let go of that, you wind up blaming external factors, pointing fingers, blaming team members and generally fault-finding instead of problem-solving.

Here are the things you could be observing in your team members who don’t have a sense of accountability:

  • Taking vacation during critical, time-sensitive projects
  • Leaving early or coming in late
  • Being unaware of deadlines or project statuses
  • Giving excuses for lack of productivity or quality problems
  • Not being as creative
  • Not dotting all the i’s
  • Not following up quickly or frequently enough
  • Not communicating with their employees, peers, or with you enough
  • Making vague vs specific commitments

When someone doesn’t accept full accountability, they don’t think of the things they should be thinking of – they leave things to others.

As I work with business owners, I often see leaders, whole teams, or individual managers, who aren’t accountable. The result is employees are frustrated, delegation isn’t happening well, customers are dissatisfied, costly mistakes are being made and on and on. A lack of accountability in even one member of your team debilitates the whole organization.

Compare that to an organization where accountability is established. Every person is saying things like, “it’s on me,” “I blew it,” and “that’s my responsibility.” They’re staying late or coming in early during critical times, they’re reporting problems with solutions vs just reporting problems, and they’re saying “I” and “my” vs “we” and “they.” They make specific commitments and they deliver on those promises.

Creating accountability – Establish a routine of reporting

Creating accountability starts with being specific about what the expectations are—who’s doing what by when, then establishing a routine of reporting against those goals. Make accountability reporting a part of your team meeting and your meetings with individuals and do it weekly or every other week. Use your 90-day action plan as your planning tool, then use it in your weekly meetings to make sure people are on track.

Creating accountability begins to take on a life of its own

When people see their peers stepping up and taking accountability on a regular basis and following through on their commitments, their natural tendency to assimilate causes them to step up and do the same. Accountability becomes the cultural norm… and then you couldn’t get rid of it if you tried!

About Roger Engelau
Head Business Coach and Owner of Inspire Results Business Coaching, Roger Engelau applies his expertise to help business owners improve their business, people and profits. For more information on Inspire Results, or to schedule your free discovery session, visit 

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