Execution and Accountability: Bite-Size Chunks

Two of the most frequent comments I hear about leaders are, “She needs to focus on execution” and “He’s not good at holding people accountable.” I’ve heard permutations of these in almost every organization I’ve supported and executive I’ve coached.

When I ask specifically what that means, I often get blank stares. So, let’s break it down. (We’ll take on both execution and accountability as they have similarities.)

Neither the ability to execute nor the ability to hold people accountable is a skill you’re necessarily born with; it’s much better to think about them as a process.

The ability to execute requires 5 things.

1                              A clear objective. Execute exactly what? Better customer service? Exactly what does that look like? Better financial results? Which parts of the income statement or balance sheet need to change? A more positive culture? Too vague. What behaviors would you value more, and which do you want to eliminate? Where does this objective fit on the priority list?

2                              A plan. What steps will you take to meet this objective? Who does what by when? Who owns this? Who’s accountable? By what date?

3                              Resources. What knowledge or assets will you require to do this? How much time will this take?

4                              A monitoring process. How will you measure progress? Who will do so? How will you report it? How will you communicate about this? What will you do if you’re off track?

5                              Consequences. If you execute well, what happens? If you don’t or if others don’t, will they get training? Get fired?

When expectations aren’t met, ask which of these requirements are missing.

Holding people accountable has similar characteristics and, once again, you should identify the key elements if you’re going to change your behavior or coach one of your people. Here they are:

1                              Accountable for what? What, exactly, are people accountable for? I often find that this is unclear. Get agreement.

2                              Tools, skills, resources. Does the accountable person have what’s necessary to get the job done? If not, who’s responsible for acquiring this?

3                              Timeline. When is this supposed to be complete? Are there milestones articulated with dates?

4                              Follow-up process. How often and in what format will you review progress?

5                              Consequences. What are the positive or negative consequences of not meeting expectations?

If you use this format, you’ll be a much better manager and contributor. Minimize vagary in management!

Please share
Follow Me