Friday, July 1, 2011

Accountabilities - How are you measured?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Accountability as "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions"

I have seen many organisations often bundle together high level generic organisation Accountabilities with individual Accountabilities into generic KPI’s that are then imposed on almost all employees. This methodology fails to hold individuals accountable for their role.

A simplistic example:
Hypothetically imagine you or I were to go to have a surgical procedure. From the moment we entered the hospital it is the “hospital” and all staff involved responsibility to ensure my health is looked after. HOWEVER we do not hold the person at the administration desk accountable for my surgery. Likewise we do not hold the Theatre Nurse accountable for the actual procedure. We hold the Theatre Nurse accountable for ensuring the Doctor has all appropriate surgical instruments etc. Likewise we do not hold the Surgeon accountable for changing my bed pan.

Now imagine if everyone’s KPI at the hospital was the same e.g. “Ensure the health of all our patients.” How would you know who is doing a good job or a great job? How do you know when something goes wrong where the accountabilities lie?

This example can be applied across organisations today. How many of you have a Sales, Margin or Profit number next to your name but your accountabilities are not directly related to impacting the financials? Of course everyone plays a role in the organisations ability to meet its financial objectives however if the metrics are not aligned with Accountabilities then there will forever be lack of role clarity, poor communication and finger pointing i.e. it was someone else’s “responsibility”!

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