Six Key Principles of Corporate Accountability
The foundation of any business transaction is the promise of fair deal. In complex organizational relationships, it is all too easy to lose sight of the existence and terms of this deal. On the surface, that employer/employee relationship, called a job, is a fair deal wherein the employer's money is traded for the employee's time and talent. The deeper reality, however, is that the employer is actually trading resources for a set of desirable results, which the employee is expected to deliver. The promise to faithfully deliver as agreed by both parties is the essence of accountability.
We recommend that organizations give voice to their accountability through a document called an Accountability Agreement. An Accountability Agreement clearly states the results that each member of an organization, from the most senior to the most junior, is expected to bring about [For specific examples of Accountability Agreements, please see our online tool at AlignOnline.com]. The following six principles form the foundation for negotiating and understanding accountability. Together they form a practical theory of accountability, the transforming effect it can have on an organization, and its essential role in creating significant business results.
I. Accountability is a Statement of Personal Promise
II. Accountability for Results Means Activities Aren't Enough
III. Accountability for Results Requires Room for Judgment and Decision Making
IV. Accountability is Neither Shared nor Conditional
V. Accountability for the Organization as a Whole Belongs to Everyone
VI. Accountability is Meaningless Without Consequences
Organizational accountability entirely subverts the tendency to make excuses and shift blame. When employees make clear and specific commitments for their own work, entire organizations become aligned and achieve specific measurable results.
Shaun Murphy, Ph.D. and Bruce Klatt, M.A. are senior partners in Murphy Klatt Consulting. This article has been adapted from a chapter of their book, Accountability: Getting a Grip on Results (2nd Ed.1997). Their other publications include Aligned Like a Laser (2004), The Encyclopedia of Leadership (2001), and The Ultimate Training Handbook (1999). They are internationally recognized experts in the field of Accountability Alignment, Organizational Effectiveness, and Project Development whose books have sold over 100,000 copies internationally.
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