Who’s Pointing Fingers At Whom


S.M.A.R.T. Accountability
5 Tips On Developing Team Accountability


Some favorite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job. . . No one told me. . . It couldn’t be helped.” Break the cycle of finger pointing and get down to business.


What is accountability?  Accountability is simply the ability to accept responsibility or be answerable for the results (good or bad) of a task or project.  Accountability cannot exist without proper preparation, leadership involvement and measurement tools. What that means is that business owners must develop some leadership skills so that they can clearly communicate tasks and projects at hand, assign responsibilities and measure the results.  If you think about it, the absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.



“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey


Being accountable means being willing and able to accept full responsibility of the consequences as a result of certain activities or events in your business. First it starts with your own accountability.  As the leader in your business, of course you are responsible for everything…good and not so good, however, remember if you talk the talk and walk the walk your team will line up behind you easily.  Next it’s with achieving individual staff or team accountability. With each member of the team being accountable for their actions, team accountability can be easily achieved – each and every member of the team becomes accountable of the actions of the whole team. Achieving team accountability eliminates the concept of finger pointing or the blame game which only creates discontent and is counterproductive in achieving your business goals and objectives


When you create a culture of accountability within your business, it ultimately encourages better performance.   Creating a culture of accountability is not always easy since most people think that the concept of having to accept responsibility is often negative. It’s important to also consider the positive aspects of accountability. 


Reward positive actions and results.  Highlight positive actions.  Team members will react and perform better by holding them accountable in a positive way and that creates a culture for business success.   When that occurs, it’s natural for people to strive for positive recognition and it will become your powerful secret weapon towards obtaining your business goals and objectives.


5 Tips To Build Team Accountability


 1.       Clearly establish and publish performance goals and behavior standards for the team. Collectively and publicly state exactly what needs to be achieved, which needs to deliver what, and how everyone must act in order to succeed.  This is exactly what clearly written job descriptions and Operations Manuals are for.  Be specific!


 2.       Develop simple tools to measure and monitor systems to track progress at regularly scheduled staff meetings.  Always measure and follow up. This is a task that can be accomplished with your team leaders or business manager.


3.       Be ruthless if need be and prepared to resolve team performance issues “head on” if necessary.  As one of my mentors says, “Hire slow and fire fast.” [Dan Kennedy]  Performance that is not acceptable must be dealt fast and consistently throughout your entire organization. 


4.       Publicly declare results. Teams that are willing to commit publicly to specific results are more likely to work with a passionate desire to achieve those results.  Praise them individually and as a team for great work done.  You will get more fro praise and “at-a-boys (girls)” than by ruling by fear.  Fear breeds resentment and is counter productive to the success of your business and your reputation.


5.       Establish results-based rewards. A very effective way to ensure that team members focus their attention on the tasks at hand is to tie their rewards, especially compensation, to the achievement of specific team outcomes, versus individual outcomes.  There are many creative ways you can do that such as: time off, bonuses based on results, lunches, dinners, or gift cards.


These are just a few pointers on building a great responsive team and accountability.  The bottom line is that you must “set the bar”, set the standards, communicate performance standards, follow up and hold people responsible for their actions.  Reward successes always!


Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com


9 Responses to “Who’s Pointing Fingers At Whom”

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  1. Kiyla Fenell says:

    Accountability is probably the number one missing ingredient in most people’s businesses. When you point your finger there are 4 pointing back.

    Kiyla Fenell

  2. Mitch Tublin says:

    If no one owns it, it doesn’t get done.

    Good points you have written out.

  3. Gail
    Great post. I really like this one: Clearly establish and publish performance goals and behavior standards for the team – it just makes life so much easier down the road! – for everyone!

  4. Paula says:

    Great ideas. Accountability is a pandemic problem not just in business but throughout our society. So could you send this article to the politicians? :)

  5. Gail,

    So spot on! Results based conversations and measures are so critical. And I find it makes accountability a bit easier when the focus is on results. Too often the focus is on the hours someone is putting in (as if that meant they were naturally doing a better job than someone who wasn’t putting in so many hours). But, when the focus shifts to results, it can be a whole different story.


    • Gail Saseen says:

      I find that most workers in our contry are focused on the number of hours… not the quality of work. I also think that if employees – team – etc – “buy into” the vision and purpose of an organization it’s like they have a purpose in creating the end result. Then hours don’t matter so much…
      Thanks Terry

  6. Sue Painter says:

    I’m all for pay based on performance, and that requires clear goals. Good stuff!

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