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While performance connotes effectiveness in delivering on major topline results, positive year-over-year growth, and an organization’s ability to thrive in competitive markets, organizational achievement is measured by the benchmark successes it takes to get there. As such, one of the most critical indicators of a company’s performance is the rate of achievement occurring at every level of the organization. Rate of achievement is one of the most important — yet frequently ignored or misunderstood — metric in organizations today.
When we consider achievement in the business world, terms like “Six Sigma” and “scrum” often come to mind. These process-related management tools certainly promote flexibility, speed, and team cohesion. However, often siloed within IT and manufacturing teams, these processes don’t get to the heart of what achievement truly means — at every level of an organization.
Achieving sustained success demands that everything from daily tasks to multimillion dollar deals are completed on time, on budget, and in accordance with high quality standards. So how can leaders ensure they are cultivating this kind of achievement across their organizations?
Often, an individual employee will have their own set of daily priorities and professional development goals that do not necessarily align with team goals or the objectives of a given project. Meanwhile, a team’s goals may not support the larger vision of the organization or actively contribute to its success.
No individual employee, team, or department can demonstrate the level of achievement necessary for high organizational performance unless they are in agreement on what targets they should be aiming for and are committed to hitting those targets together. As such, promoting greater achievement in the workplace begins with alignment around a clear set of objectives.
Corporate leaders are responsible for defining and communicating the organization’s three to five “must-deliver” objectives, or Key Results. Key Results must be meaningful, memorable, and measurable — and progress toward them must be quantifiable. Once they have been clarified, these results should be communicated clearly to all employees so that they understand and can align their daily work around these objectives.
Even if an organization has developed a strong sense of alignment across teams and departments, it will fail to see high levels of achievement without accountability. Though the distinction between accountability vs. responsibility may not be immediately clear, the two should not be confused. While responsibility has to do with clearly defined operational roles and duties, accountability is a positive and personal choice that centers around the question, “What else can I do?”
According to the New York Times bestselling book The Oz Principle, accountability is the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.” Taking full personal accountability requires not only psychological ownership, but an active and daily commitment to recognizing existing hurdles to desired results, creatively and collaboratively problem-solving to overcome these hurdles, implementing effective solutions, and delivering on promises to accomplish Key Results.
When workplace accountability is embodied by individual employees, collective teams, and the organization as a unified whole, every member plays their part in reaching the incremental benchmarks that together equate to achievement on a large scale. Achievement is self-perpetuating in an accountable workforce — when an individual holds him or herself accountable for high personal achievement, his or her team is likely to take notice and strive to achieve on a higher level. Ultimately, achievement can generate meaningful personal and organizational growth.
Our research enables leaders to gauge levels of achievement within their organizations through predictive statistical analysis of a set of critical accountability indicators.
By quantifying factors such as feedback-seeking, psychological ownership, creative problem-solving, and rates of effective action-taking — on the individual and team levels — the metrics provided by the Workplace Accountability Index empower leaders to identify achievement gaps that must be bridged by fostering higher levels of accountability.
Beyond simply measuring the factors essential to promoting continual achievement at work, the Workplace Accountability Index arms leaders with statistical knowledge of other key indicators of an organization’s accountability health — such as adaptability to market change, individual and organizational growth potential, and speed to market. Most importantly, however, the Workplace Accountability Index can help leaders better understand the essential connection between achievement and a strong workplace culture of accountability.