The word ‘accountability’ gets tossed around a lot in leadership discussions. Everyone agrees that accountability is necessary in high-performing organizations but creating a culture of accountability is tough. I’ve seen even some of the most experienced leaders waver on this one.
A few years ago, I was chatting with a group of senior leaders who were struggling with accountability. They were baffled as to why many of their employees weren’t living up to the service expectations. Wanting to understand a bit more about what they’d done in the past, I inquired about their approach. How did they make their expectations known? Like many organizations that struggle to improve their patient satisfaction scores, the group proudly reported that EVERYONE had been trained and Everyone knew what was expected. Probing a bit more, I learned that the training consisted of a one hour customer service training session held two years ago. I waited to hear what else had been done. The silence spoke volumes. That was it. One hour of “smile lessons” and they expected that patients would be singing praise and scores would soar. Fat chance.
I’m amazed at how many leaders still confuse smile lessons with creating a culture of service-minded, patient-centered individuals. One short training session will not shift a culture. Furthermore, telling staff how you want them to behave doesn’t mean it will happen. Effective leaders set clear expectations, then monitor to make sure it is happening. By monitoring, I don’t mean micromanaging or hovering, but rather, checking on progress toward goals, observing and giving feedback. Your attention speaks volumes. It says that you are serious and committed to holding them accountable. It also gives you a chance to coach and to recognize as appropriate.
Accountability really boils down to this – It’s not what you expect. It’s what you inspect. If you want to create a service-driven culture get out there and inspect.