I had someone ask me not too long ago how engagement and accountability can both be present in a facility. Their thought was you can have one, but you can’t have both.
When people think along those lines, they have a wrong understanding of engagement and likely a wrong understanding of accountability.
Engagement is not a popularity contest. It is not trying to be “liked” by those we lead. It is truly caring for those we lead and ensuring we provide a work environment that creates an atmosphere of mutual care for and about what happens in our business, idea sharing at all levels, listening to one another, and personal accountability from everyone. When true engagement takes place, more people really care about what we are doing and they provide discretionary effort and focus on what they are doing. Employees have a much different view of their workplace.
But notice the comment above…personal accountability from everyone.
Accountability is defined as an obligation to accept responsibility for something as well as the resulting consequences.
Everyone in a facility is mutually accountable to one another. Even though I am not at your facility every day, I am accountable to your facility for many things:
Providing clear, effective focus on safety
Ensuring our commercial plan is sufficient to sustain jobs and create profitable businesses.
Providing a focus and system to ensure we take care of customers at a very high level.
Providing leadership focus to operate all of our facilities in an effective and efficient manner to sustain them for long-term.
Developing our leaders to be effective in their roles for their personal benefit as well as those they lead.
I can go on and on, but I have a great deal of things I am accountable to you for. Likewise, you are accountable to those you lead.
But you also must be able to hold others accountable for their actions/performance as well. When any part of the system/team fails to do their part, they put the entire organization at risk. Sometimes it’s failing to follow a safety procedure. Sometimes it’s not performing a quality check on a box. Maybe it’s not properly completing a PM procedure. The list can go on and on. Everyone must do the right thing and their part all the time or we run the risk of negative consequences.
So remember, as a leader, you are accountable to those you lead, and you must hold those you lead accountable for their performance as well. That’s part of leadership. When you do it well with the proper balance, people will start holding one another accountable and your job gets easier. Failing to hold others accountable for their actions is irresponsible and is poor leadership. Failing to recognize our accountability to those we lead is a clear misunderstanding of leadership. Accountability is a two-way street. We need to act on that fact this year.