Learn how to create a culture of accountability by establishing a set of principles for how you want your teams to behave.
Once you understand your accountabilities as a leader and you’ve clearly defined them for the members of your team, you need to start thinking about the broader organization, and how you can create a culture of accountability.
Culture is nothing more than the sum of our daily actions. And to change culture, you’re going to want to set in place a series of principles for how you want people to behave. And those principles are going to drive those daily behaviors. This will take time. Culture will not change overnight. But those small behaviors every single day, over time, are going to create that very strong culture of accountability. The values need to be articulated and clarified in a manner that everyone in the organization understands them. You also need to give them the latitude to behave in a manner where they’re not afraid of taking a risk and trying to live up to those values.
For example, I ran a large customer service organization at one point. We said we wanted to commit to the customer to give them great service. We also knew we had financial obligations to the broader organization. So what we did was we said we’re going to tell our associates who are on the phone with our customers to just ask themselves one question: is this right for the customer? Whatever they were thinking about doing at that moment in the interaction with the customer, they had to ask themselves: is this right for the customer? If the answer was yes, they should do it. If the answer was no, they needed to find some other solution.
Now, we got some great behaviors because of that. The associates felt empowered to help our customers. And our customers loved it. The service level scores were fantastic. Occasionally, we’d get an associate that would do something that was too right for the customer, and give away a little too much value, which then hampered us on our financial goals. So we were constantly trying to find that balance between delivering great service and meeting our financial goals. But by putting in place that one principle, we were able to shift those small, daily behaviors of our associates on the phone, and create that culture that we wanted.
I had another call center environment where we wanted to treat our customers well. And they were in collections, so it was already an adversarial relationship. We wanted to change that dynamic. So we told our associates to look for signs of willingness in our customers. Let’s believe that they want to pay us back. That they want to meet their obligations. When our associates looked at that principle and started treating our customers that way, we got very different behavior. Customers started finding new ways to pay us back. They actually put us higher in the payment hierarchy than other creditors who were beating them up on the phone, and telling them that they needed to pay now, and threatening them. We were willing to work with them. It was that small principle that we put in place that changed those small behaviors. Our associates knew they were accountable for living up to that set of principles.
As you think about your organization and creating this culture of accountability, first determine the key behaviors that you want, and make sure they’re aligned with the brand of your organization. Communicate those values, let people know who they’re accountable to, and then figure out those small desired daily actions that you want to see out of your people. Be patient. Reinforce those behaviors. And when you see somebody do it right, celebrate that success. Communicate it broadly across the organization, so people know what you’re looking for. And if you’re able to be patient, have that clarity of principle, over time you’ll have the culture of accountability you’re looking for.
Want to learn more about building accountability into your culture? How about taking an entire course on it? Check out the video below to learn more about the course and get started. Or you can go directly to the course and start learning how to build accountability into your culture. The entire course is available at LinkedIn Learning. Enjoy!
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