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Whatever happened to accountability?

Tom Wall Published on 27 April 2011

Remember the famous sign on President Truman’s desk: “The Buck Stops Here.”? If you’re a leader, you probably already know that the buck stops with you.

As an employer or manager, you’re accountable to everyone who depends on the success and viability of your dairy ... your management team, your employees, your customers, your vendors, your lenders, your neighbors and last but certainly not least, yourself and your family.



So does that mean you’re the only one at your company who should be held accountable for their decisions and actions? Of course not.

Despite being the main person in charge, you still need to expect every person on your team to be accountable for themselves and the work that they do.

Unfortunately, it seems that some employees believe accountability primarily means “showing up on time.” Think back to conversations you’ve had in the past with employees regarding raises.

Have you ever had employees argue that they deserved more money simply because they “never miss work”? And yes, I agree sometimes that’s a good place to start. But how did employees start believing perfect attendance was the only thing they needed to earn more money?

Sure, some employees probably already believed that from the start. But at some point, I’d bet this mentality was reinforced by bosses who gave in to the “as-long-as-you-show-up argument.” And since that’s all that some managers expected from their employees, that’s all that these managers got!


So how do you create a sense of accountability and spread it across the rest of your team?

I believe accountability starts at the same place that the buck stops – at the top. You set the tone for what’s expected of each person on your team. By setting high standards for your employees and providing them with the necessary tools, training and support to achieve this level of performance, your team will truly know what’s expected of them every day.

By utilizing job descriptions and written protocols to communicate and evaluate the work each person does, you’ll be able to hold everyone accountable for their personal performance and overall contribution. And now, instead of rewarding employees for merely “showing up,” you’ll be recognizing them for how well they actually do their job.

Whether it’s a politician and his constituents, a football coach and the team’s owner or a manager and his employees, we all answer to somebody. The success of your company is counting on your team, and your team is counting on you. PD

Tom Wall