The Accountability Sequence
Roger Connors, CEO, New York Times Bestselling Author, Bestselling Author of How Did That Happen? introduces the Accountability Sequence Model (view Roger’s bio). The positive, principled way to hold others accountable using the simple steps in both the Outer and Inner Rings of the sequence model.
Partners In Leadership’s New York Times No. 1 Leadership Bestseller, How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way introduces the Accountability Sequence Model, a complete framework for holding people accountable in a way that produces results and positive morale.
The Accountability Sequence highlights how to hold others accountable for achieving Key Expectations. We define a “Key Expectation” as “An expectation that must be achieved and will require the commitment from everyone you depend on in the Expectations Chain® to do what needs to be done to deliver the result.” Key Expectations are formed when not delivering is not an option. Everyone in the Expectations Chain must See It,® believe in it, and share responsibility for making it happen. This means that when you establish expectations, you must carefully weigh the specifics of what you want to have happen, as well as the specific people who will be required to take accountability to make it happen
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The Accountability Sequence is an effective and powerful framework for holding others accountable by outlining the steps for establishing Key Expectations using the Outer Ring® and for managing unmet expectations using the Inner Ring.®
When you set about establishing Key Expectations, apply the FORM Checklist,® which includes four characteristics that are fundamental to forming effective expectations:
IS IT FRAMABLE?
To ensure the expectation is consistent with the current vision, strategy and business priorities.
IS IT OBTAINABLE?
To ensure that the expectation is achievable in terms of current resource and capacity constraints all the way through the Expectations Chain.®
IS IT REPEATABLE?
To ensure that the expectation is portable and can be clearly communicated through the Expectations Chain.
IS IT MEASURABLE?
To ensure that progress toward achieving the expectation can be tracked and that ultimate fulfillment of the expectation can be measured.
The Why-What-When® approach to communicating your well-formed expectations provides a powerful tool for taking the next step in the Outer Ring of the Accountability Sequence.
MAKING THE “WHY” COMPELLING
To be most effective, the “Why” needs to speak to people as individuals and convince them that accomplishing the “What” and “When” matters to them on a personal level. First, tailor the “Why” to your specific audience. The more personal you can make the “Why,” the more compelling it will be. Second, make it short, simple and clear. Third, be candid, honest and forthcoming. Fourth, make it a dialogue, not a monologue. Fifth, create the hook that catches people’s attention and persuades them to buy in. Sixth, frame it in a strategic context. When you craft a compelling “Why,” you create a dialogue that draws people into the cause. They become motivated and can’t wait to start making it happen.
MAKING THE “WHAT” CLEAR
Once you have communicated the “Why,” you can prepare to talk about the “What.” Making the “What” clear involves three discussions: communicating the expectation you have formed, clarifying the boundaries and establishing available support.
MAKING THE “WHEN” CONCRETE
With the “Why” and the “What” clarified, you can set about framing your expectations in terms of time. You should attach a “By-when” to every key expectation. Never assume that people grasp the urgency of a particular expectation. Creating an environment in your team, your department, your entire organization and even with outside stakeholders, where concrete deadlines really matter, greatly facilitates everyone’s ability to deliver on expectations. Implemented effectively, Why-What-When puts in your hands a powerful tool that sets the stage for getting people aligned with what you want to accomplish. Alignment is essential to the fulfillment of key expectation and getting results.
There are different levels of alignment. The highest level, the level that brings full ownership and personal investment is “Complete Alignment.” All other levels, with their lower levels of buy-in, fall into the category of “Complyment.” Complyment may “Get it done,” but Complete Alignment gets it done better.
The Alignment Dialogue®
The Alignment Dialogue eliminates the danger mere Complyment poses to Key Expectations. Consisting of three simple steps, this dialogue helps you determine the current level of alignment (or Complyment) and what else you can do to gain Complete Alignment.
STEP ONE: SCORE IT
Restate the expectation, agree to use the Alignment Dialogue and ask: How aligned are you on a scale from 1-10 (1 is low, 10 is completely aligned)?
STEP TWO: EVALUATE IT
Determine what else is needed by asking: What would make you a 10?
STEP THREE: RESOLVE IT
Resolve concerns and confirm the original expectation or revise using Why-What-When
The last crucial step in the Outer Ring of the Accountability Sequence is: Inspect What You Expect.® During the inspection step, people clearly begin to see accountability at work. As you begin to inspect how closely expectations are being fulfilled, people begin to validate that you are entirely serious about holding them accountable. At the same time, you manifest your own accountability and your personal dedication to doing everything you can to get the result.
A Positive, Principled Inspection Should Include The Following Best Practices:
- Mutually Agree How and When the inspection will occur.
- Provide Support, Reinforce progress and Promote learning.
- Ask, “What else can you do?”
When an inspection reveals that the Key Expectation is unmet, in jeopardy of being met or will require some extra steps to ensure delivery, then go to the Inner Ring and have an Accountability Conversation.
When you deal with unmet expectations, you can choose one of three courses of action: One, you can lower the expectation to accommodate people who are not delivering; two, you can replace those people; or three, you can engage them in the Accountability Conversation with an eye toward helping them produce the results you want through the Expectations Chain.®
Key to solving unmet expectations in the Inner Ring are the three steps of the conversation: Make sure the problem is not on the Outer Ring; select an Inner Ring Solution and use the Outer Ring to implement the plan.
The Accountability Conversation
Discuss and determine: Is there a problem on the Outer Ring? If so where?
Identify an Inner Ring Solution
- Examine Motivation: “Are you motivated?”
- Evaluate Training: “Do you need training?”
- Assess Accountability: “What else can you do to operate Above The Line?”®
- Consider Culture: “Is the culture an issue?”
Use the Outer Ring to establish the expectation.
The four variables of motivation, training, culture and accountability, provide direction and clarification to those who hold others accountable. They make up the Inner Ring Solutions and are fundamental to the Accountability Conversation that allows you to deal effectively with people who are falling short on expectations, whether they report to you or not.
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“The kind of accountability that produces true alignment and real trust can be the determining factor in winning or losing for any organization. Partners In Leadership offers a practical and powerful solution that is a positive and principled guide to holding people in any organization accountable to achieve its key results.”
“Partners In Leadership has done it again! They provide a tool-kit for holding people accountable in a way that builds trust and loyalty, creating a competitive advantage at a time when “accountability” is more important than ever before!”