Experts Small Business
4 mins read

The power of accountability


In a recent conversation a client was telling me how frustrated he is from continually having to remind his staff to do basic things. Then, when he does remind them, he gets push back, which ends up turning a simple reminder into a discussion he can’t be bothered having.

Do you ever look at any of your staff and think, “I shouldn’t have to remind you to do that?”

There are two ways to deal with issues like this. We can try to deal with the symptoms, the surface issues that annoy us, or we can look deeper to find the root cause.

In this article I’m going to show you how powerful accountability is and how it alone has the power to get your business to achieve heights it hasn’t achieved before.

It is easy to blame the employees for poor performance in your business, but as a leader, it is your responsibility to fix the issues that cause it. The are only three issues that cause poor performance. Trying to get people to work harder won’t get you the results you want. But setting up accountability systems in relation to these three issues will.

The three root causes of poor performance are:

  • Not knowing what to do,
  • Not knowing how to do it,
  • Not having the right motivation to perform at a high level.

In my experience, businesses that experience these three issues don’t experience them because of poor employees, but because they do not have effective accountability systems, particularly in three areas.

  1. There are insufficient regular structured meetings that cover critical success factors in your business and provide the opportunity for proactive feedback. 

Most business give yearly reviews mainly because staff are expecting a pay rise. I’ve found more often than not, that if a business hasn’t been going so well, these reviews haven’t happened for two to four years in some cases.

As a result, people work for months, if not years, without effective feedback, which leads to all kinds of festering issues if not addressed.

What I recommend is that all staff should have a weekly structured meeting with their manager covering the following

  • What are their goals in the business and life
  • Recap the business goals and how we are tracking
  • Get the staff member to rate the their performance in relation to the three core values of the business and decide what they will do to bridge the gap if any
  • Review their (KPI’s) key performance indicators and ensure the manager gives feedback on something positive first, then an area that they would like to see improve.
  1. There are currently insufficient systems in place to ensure all tasks are performed well.

Most owners I talk to want to have staff that work autonomously and take responsibility around their role and their responsibilities. This is great in theory, but before you can expect great performance, you need to educate staff on how to be responsible, how to take charge and how to organise themselves. You also need to provide them with adequate resources to set them up to succeed. If you are currently not achieving the results you want, I would recommend you implement the following:

  • Ask all team members to list the tasks they are responsible for in their role
  • Each day create a daily to-do list (the first task each day is to create a list of tasks that need to be completed throughout the day, prioritise them and reflect on the day before)
  • Then create a close of day check list to monitor what has been achieved
  • Then over the period of time, use the task lists and create step by step instructions on how to complete the tasks.
  1. The Most Important… but yet possibly the hardest one for most business owners to agree with. Find someone for you to be accountable to.

Accountability is different from control. Control is primarily focused on tracking results, while accountability is primarily focused on relationship. People can be motivated to achieve results, but motivation is enhanced when it is tied into relationship. With relationship comes shared goals, shared promises and shared commitments.

Higher motivation is more easily achieved through accountability systems, which support commitments made in relationships between employees and managers.

But who are you accountable to? Who holds you accountable for high performance and who can you share the burden of responsibility with, to enhance your motivation?

Your most important form of accountability is to have a business consultant, coach or mentor to share responsibility for your results.

Last month we had our best month ever, but we fell short our target. Normally I would have to be ok with it or carry the responsibility of not hitting our target. But I got on the phone and had a performance conversation with my mentor just like I would a staff member when they don’t achieve the targets I set out for them.

My mentor and I set our targets together. We committed to work together to achieve my dreams. I made the decision to invest in him to share responsibility for my dreams with me. No longer do I now have a dream and fight for it by myself. He shares the responsibility with me.

Now that phone call put the pressure on my mentor who then has applied extra support for our business to ensure we not only hit our target this month, but we make up for lost ground last month.

The power of accountability is not just control. The power of accountability is making sure that a person has the right tools, systems and support to ensure the tasks are done the best way to achieve the best results.

About the Author:

Troy Eadie is a business growth specialist and co-director of consultancy firm Business Success Systems. He specialises in assisting smart but frustrated business owners to quickly leverage their business by empowering their staff to be more responsible, engaged and produce better results.  To contact Troy please visit or email him at

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