“Four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody, have an important job to be done…and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done….and thus accountability was born.”
Following on from last week, and our theme of structure, one of the most important concepts any business needs to grasp is that of accountability and responsibility
Medium and large businesses have the advantage of having dedicated staff working on specific roles, exclusively.
From my experience this tends to silo the business and leave it a little disjoined.
On the other hand, smaller businesses are a bit like children playing football; wherever the ball is (the focus), that is where the children will be.
But how do you grow a small business when you do not have the luxury of having dedicated roles only?
The answer is account-ability and response-ability?
For the sharp eyed readers, you will notice the slightly different spelling of both! This is to highlight the word ability.
For both words, the ability is the key focus.
For account-ability, what we are asking one person is to count. That’s it. Nothing else.
As long as they’re able to count and know what they’re counting, what the numbers should be, and what the gap is, that’s all they need to do.
If at any point there’s a deficit, then all they need to do is highlight it to the team.
The team are now all response-able for fixing the problem. This means they are able to respond.
If we are not able to respond – i.e. we blame someone else or say that it’s not my role – then we have no control over any outcome. Our mantra is being able to respond to anything:
- Client not happy = I am response-able
- Staff not doing their job = I am response-able
- Sales not performing = I am response-able
- Late for a meeting = I am response-able
I think you get the picture. In all the above situations, my attitude is: what could I have done to prevent this?
At first, of course, you may think nothing. In that situation you blame someone or something else, so now you’re not response-able and the resolution is out of your hands.
I was recently late for a meeting in London by four minutes (based on South West Network cancelling over 80% of their trains due to weather, so getting there was a miracle in itself).
The reason I was only four minutes late was that I’m usually 90 minutes early as I have learned to arrive everywhere that early, just in case of any unforeseen issues.
Every key area in YOUR business that has an input or output needs to be counted by someone, and their job is simply to let the team know if something is wrong. Then the team earn their money by fixing it.
If, however, nobody is counting these areas, and something is not right, AND the business doesn’t have the culture of everybody being response-able, then I wish you all the luck, as that is the only strategy you have.