Definition of performance management systemAccountability is one of those principles of business that is an important foundation oforganizational culture but is easily shrugged off as a buzz-word. Ask someone in yourorganization to define accountability, and you may hear any number of answers, from "Idont know" to "following the rules." You might even see some eyes roll.Accountability is rarely explicitly defined, whether for the organization as a whole, or forthe departments and teams that work within them. While a well-designed performancemanagement system may hint at the underlying accountability philosophy, rarely does anorganization define the daily act of accountability, even for its leadership team for whomit is most important.What is accountability? A quick search at Dictionary.com reveals the followingdefinition: "ac·count·a·bil·i·ty [uh-koun-tuh-bil-i-tee]: the state of being accountable,liable, or answerable." Certainly, it is an obvious answer to the question, but it does notshed much light on what it means for people in organizations to be accountable.Intuitively, everyone has a sense of what accountability means to them. A warehouseclerk is accountable for accurate parts inventory every month. A human resourcesdirector is accountable for ensuring the company heeds employment laws. A CEO isaccountable for business results. For each of these examples, the word "accountable"could be replaced by "responsible." Each person is responsible for achieving a result.Yet, accountability means more than responsibility. There is a sense that other people areinvolved. The same CEO is accountable to shareholders. The warehouse clerk isaccountable to his manager. The human resources director is accountable to theemployees. Accountability requires that someone has a stake in whether or not thedesired result is achieved.In fact, the person who is responsible for the result also must have a stake in achievingthe outcome. There must be a consequence - positive or negative - based on whether ornot the outcome is achieved.The basic definition of accountability, then is: Accountability is a promise to yourself andothers to deliver specific, defined results, with consequences.The process for assigning accountability asks four questions. Answer the questions withinthe following guidelines.Accountable for what?Accountability starts with an outcome, a result that needs to be accomplished. It isimportant to distinguish between responsibility for activities and accountability for
results. Micro-managers define the activities that are expected and then hold employeesresponsible for performing those activities. However, accountability for results requiresroom for judgment and decision-making. Someone cant be accountable for an end resultif someone else tells him what to do and how to do it. Ultimately, it is the end result thatforms the expectation upon which accountability is based.Who is accountable?Next, assign who holds the responsibility for the result. Ultimately, accountability is notshared. A manager who has taken on responsibility for a result may delegate thatresponsibility to an employee, however the manager does not give up the accountabilityfor that result, nor does she truly share the accountability with that employee, since theyare accountable to different people.Accountable to whom?Everyone is accountable first to himself. The result must be achieved within the scope ofones own personal values, ethics and abilities. Identify the party or parties who have astake in the outcome. If there is more than one stakeholder, determine if the expectedoutcomes are the same. If the expectations are different, then an agreement should bemade between the stakeholders on how those outcomes are related.What are the consequences?Accountability is meaningless without consequences, positive or negative. The concept ofholding someone accountable comes in here. If someone accomplishes the results theypromised to achieve, then he should be recognized for that. If someone misses his target,then he should at best not receive the recognition, and at worst he should be penalized. Itis important to define the consequence up front.Accountability is not conditional. Accepting unconditional responsibility means there areno excuses and no one to blame, even if events are beyond ones control. Also,accountability for results means activities are not enough. It is not enough to executeactivities perfectly if the desired outcome is not achieved. If people receive the expectedreward for trying hard, then accountability will not work. If the organization wants toreward risk-taking or trying hard, then it should be done outside of the originalaccountability agreement.How accountability is assigned and followed up in your organization defines how results-oriented your organization is. Explicitly defining accountability and setting clearguidelines for holding people accountable can go a long way toward achieving results.http://performanceappraisalebooks.info/ : Over 200 ebooks, templates, forms forperformance appraisal.