Professionals in any field can be called upon to justify and/or answer for their actions, decisions, opinions, positions, policies and practices. In fact, in many ways LP careers are built upon these fundamental principles of leadership. In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for those different aspects within the scope of our job, as well as our obligation to report, clarify and answer for the resulting consequences. In loss prevention we seek out ways to keep individuals accountable in areas that they touch, whether it is the members of our team or the employees in our stores. And as we continue to climb the career ladder and assume more diverse responsibilities, our ability to effectively build an environment of accountability becomes increasingly important to our LP careers.
Most everyone would agree that accountable people achieve results, which is essential to the effective functioning of our companies. Too often however, we equate accountability with blame and punishment. As a result, rather than creating an environment where people care and push themselves to achieve results, we can impose an atmosphere that can be difficult and even demoralizing. People can shy away from responsibility rather than embracing it.
More ideally, accountability should focus on what can be done, how our objectives can be reached, how we can remove any obstacles that stand in our way, and the reward and satisfaction that comes with achievement. If we empower people beforehand rather than assigning blame after the fact, we can create a culture where people are more willing to assume responsibility and accountability rather than seeking out ways to escape it.
Setting the Tone
Naturally, a good leader understands that they have to hold themselves accountable first. We have to prioritize, set realistic and attainable goals, face the challenges that come with our position and set the wheels in motion. But when it comes to our team, it is just as critical that we establish an environment that fosters success while reflecting accountability for actions and decisions.
- Set Clear Expectations – All involved parties should have a clear understanding of what we are looking to achieve. Objectives should be realistic, achievable, measurable and believable. If those involved don’t believe that expectations can be met, failure and disappointment often follows. Documentation is important, and communication is essential. Writing it down enhances both comprehension and commitment, and frequent follow-up assures understanding as our efforts progress.
- Assign Authority & Responsibility – Clearly assigning responsibility to those who will be making decisions and carrying out the plan for achieving an objective is critical, but we also must ensure that the responsible person(s) carry the authority and the resources necessary to achieve those objectives. That authority should be made clear to the involved parties as well as the entire team.
- Monitor Progress – Inspect what you expect! It is important that all of those involved are able to see what has been accomplished and how. Monitoring progress helps us to stay on target with our objectives and modify our plans if and when necessary. This also provides an opportunity to both learn and coach others, encouraging professional development and adding to job satisfaction.
- Report Results – Follow up! Reporting expectations should clearly indicate who should do the reporting, to whom it should be reported, how frequently and under what provisions the information should be reported. Reports should be timely, accurate and unbiased. They should not only indicate our results (or lack thereof) but also what we’ve learned as a result.
Unfortunately, despite the best laid plans, the resources allocated, the insight provided and the direction given there will be times when our team members do not perform to the level that is necessary and do not meet the performance or objectives that have been established. In those instances corrective action should follow. Action should be strong and swift, appropriate and progressive. If we have done our job and properly communicated both our expectations and what it means if they don’t do what is expected, there should be no surprises.
The best reason to implement an environment of accountability is to achieve quality results for our team and for our company. Our goal is to instill success and maintain progressive improvement that helps build LP careers. Establishing an environment of accountability therefore begins with the right attitude and approach, progresses with the right plan and culminates with the appropriate actions. Performance ultimately drives the result, but leadership sets the tone.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about investing in your career, helping to mold LP careers, and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.