Managing a business and the people within it can be challenging to say the least.
Understanding your business and then communicating and implementing strategy effectively is critical to success.
One approach that can be effective in understanding, communicating and implementing, lies within the interpretation of, and understanding the differences between, accountability and responsibility.
Empowering people, establishing trust within a relationship, while allowing autonomy within roles are key attributes of a thriving workplace. Identifying and articulating the meaning of these two terms can create clarity for one role while defining and appreciating the roles of others around them.
In simple terms, responsibility should lie with the person doing the work. Accountability should sit with the person responsible for those doing the work.
When articulated in this way, the messaging becomes very powerful.
For those taking responsibility for their own work, there is a clear recognition that autonomy exists. Understanding that accountability rests with someone else establishes trust and authentic empowerment results.
For those responsible for people, recognising that accountability lies with them, but without responsibility for doing the work, provides powerful guidance on how they should act and behave. Handing over responsibility for the work in a genuine manner, while remaining accountable for the outcomes, is extremely effective in defining the role of those accountable for others. Importantly, this acknowledgement helps those responsible for work, to appreciate the trust bestowed on them by others.
While titles and management structures will vary significantly between organisations, the fundamentals outlined above provide clarity for most within the business. From those who take full responsibility for only their own work, through to those that remain fully accountable for the entire operation.
Defining these two simple terms succinctly and using them to provide guidance on people’s roles within a group goes a long way to establishing respect, trust and teamwork within the workplace. Characteristics that all organisations strive for.