100% Clarity – Accountability

Uncategorized | 27-01-2021

“What is owned by us is owned by no one”

“We have to try harder and work harder or we will not make it this quarter!”

Everyone nods. We are all in agreement. I am glad it’s being said now!

The team meeting is over, and we are moving on.

In a different fashion than we have been doing before? Probably not.


Do you recognise that? It’s very tempting to agree on what is going on and what needs to be done – and leave it at that. That way we get off scot-free.

But nothing will change …



“Own it”, is the creed within some American companies. But what is meant this?

The term refers to the sense of ownership we can create and experience, even if it is not a tangible possession.

Accountability, it is the opposite of ducking away, making excuses, and blaming others.

Ownership or Accountability is a top 5 issue for managers and directors. Research from American Management Association shows that, on average, a quarter of employees would prefer to duck it.


Accountability Ladder

What does it look like? Take a look at the Accountability Ladder on the right.

On the lowest level, you will see “Unaware or Unconscious,” team members who have no idea that something is going on that deserves attention. Next is “Blaming,” blaming others. And finally, you get to “Make it Happen,” colleagues who make it happen.

People in the latter category find it very difficult to deal with team members who exhibit behaviour that is further down the ladder. But fortunately, they are committed to the bottom line and are often willing to take others with them.

Now that work is increasingly becoming a team effort, it’s more important than ever to build ownership. After all, if your team’s results depend heavily on collaboration between members, then the level of ownership from each team member will determine your team’s performance.


Clarity, from large to small

The clearer it is what you would like to achieve together – and what everyone’s contribution is – the simpler and more fun it becomes for everyone. Because everyone wants to contribute, all you have to do is empower each other and encourage ownership.

We distinguish three levels of clarity:

  1. Clarity about the identity of the organisation.
  2. Clarity about the short-term team goals.
  3. Clarity about everyone’s contribution.

If you want to get started with identity, read this article: How to get to 100% Clarity on your Corporate Identity

And if you want to increase clarity on team goals, read these tips: 100% Clarity on your Team Objectives

We limit ourselves to clarity on individual contributions. Below you will find a practical step-by-step plan to achieve this clarity.


1. Clear Team Goals

Short-term goals for the organisation – KPI Targets – are a great start. They will give direction and focus. Once the KPI Targets have been set, invite your Teams to get started and set concrete goals.

Just follow the next steps with your team:


1.1 Discuss Companyg Goals, KPI’s and Targets

Take the time to talk to your team members about the Organisational Goals. What are the priorities for the coming or current year? What needs to be achieved? What is the intention? And, if that is not clear, ask the MT for clarification.


1.2 Define your team’s contribution

Think about what you can do with your team in the coming period and periods to contribute to those Company Goals.


1.3 Set Team Initiatives

Describe those contributions as specifically as possible in Team Initiatives, projects with a head and a tail.


1.4 Align

Present your contributions to the MT and possibly other teams. This is how you achieve maximum alignment.


2. Clear Initiatives

It is best to compare Team Initiatives with projects: A coherent set of activities with a head and tail, intended to deliver a specific end result. They indicate to the team what you want to achieve in the coming period, usually in addition to the daily tasks.

Following these steps with your team to achieve clear initiatives:


2.1 View the aligned initiatives

See the result of the alignment from step 1.4.

What initiatives have you come up with? What are the outcomes of these initiatives?


2.2 Dicuss contributions

Discuss each initiative and elaborate well.

Disccuss individual contributions with team members, how will you distribute the work to be done? (Result Agreements).

Make agreements and how to work together on/in implementation (Behaviour Agreements).


3. Clear Agreements

Come to agreements with your team members one each initiative. We know two types of commitments:

  1. Result commitments: this is about the What – Who will make What contribution by When?
  2. Behavioural commitments: about the How – How will we work together to achieve this outcome?


Result agreements

A Result Commitment is a commitment in which a colleague undertakes to deliver a certain result by a certain date. The sum of these Result Agreements results in a successful Team Initiative.

Result Commitments are much like milestones. Team members commit to deliver a specific contribution by a specific deadline. The sum of these contributions must, of course, lead to the desired outcome of the initiative.

This is how you get to the right Result Commitments:


3.1 Make a Punchlist

Together discuss the Team Initiative and the desired outcome. Make a list of the most important milestones and delivery points to achieve that contribution.


3.2 Appoint Owners

Specify each milestone. Appoint an owner and delivery date for each milestone.

Note: you are not planning Tasks but Results. And in order to deliver those Results on time, you could – as the owner of such an appointment –divide them into Tasks.


Behavioural Commitments

I am sure you know the saying: ” If You Always Do What You Always Did, You Will Always Get What You Always Got”. The other way around: If you want to achieve new results, you have to do new things or do them differently.

Behavioural commitments are made to set out the way you will work together in the period ahead: How will you work together to successfully deliver the agreed contribution of your Team Initiative?

This is how you will arrive at the right Behavioural Commitments:


3.3 Nominate risk of failure

Discuss the desired outcome of the Team Initiative with each other. Clarify and record the outcome.

Discuss the reasons why the Team Initiative could not succeed. Focus on your behaviour.

List the chances of failure. For example, think of: We do not meet deadlines, we do not have time because of work pressure, other teams do not deliver their contribution on time.


3.4 Name your top 3 failure modes

Name the most important failure modes in your team behaviour and choose a maximum of three.


3.5 Identify required behaviour

For each probability of failure, formulate a positive description that is as specific as possible.

Describe what behaviour you will engage in – perceptible and filmable – so that the initiative in question is successful.


Zero Distancing

If your team is dispersed, clarity weighs especially heavily. They see each other less, which requires greater trust in and reliance on each other’s contributions.

Therefore – in a “everyone works from home” scenario – pay more attention than ever to clarity.

And when you have achieved this clarity together, you continue to work closely as a team in implementation. Zero distancing.

Involve each other in accomplishing goals. Think of team members checking in each week, sharing progress, discussing requests for help. They climb the mountain together and stay close. At zero distance. Without getting under the other person’s skin. Safe to be around.

With that clarity, you make maximum use of your Time and Talent. In this way you will get much more done together.

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