Why a Single Point of Accountability is Essential for Effective Delegation

Dwight Mihalicz,

Part 4 of the Effective ManagersTM Understanding Accountability Series

How can we as managers ensure that we are effective? How do we ensure that our teams are high-performing?

Every organization has to have a strategy in place to meet its business goals. However, without proper execution, many teams end up not following the direction of their strategy by not consistently implementing the executive team’s decisions. Ultimately, they find themselves drifting away from the strategic direction. This can pull the entire organization off course.

To avoid this, organizations need to establish single points of accountability and place them as low in the organization as possible. Single points of accountability are crucial to the success of any company is it demands that the individual acknowledge what their specific accountabilities and authorities. Through single points of accountability, they recognize the distinct outputs required within a specified amount of time and the level of quality and quantity expected of them.

Determining single points of accountability needs to start from the top. Every member of the team, including the CEO, needs to ask themselves what their value-added work is. What are the activities that they are accountable for that will further the purpose of the attainment of the organization’s strategy?

While the CEO or business owner is accountable for delivering the strategic results, she or he can only do so much. This is where delegation comes in. Through clear delegation, the person below the CEO, whether it is a vice president, a manager or a supervisor, will now have their own clearly delegated accountability and authority, and a solid understanding of the context and boundaries within which they much operate

This cycle repeats through the layers of management until every manager has clearly delegated accountability and authority.

However, for delegation to be effective and for teams to be high-performing, this does not mean that a manager relinquishes accountability once tit has been delegates.

Managers, whether the CEO or on the front line, are accountable for their own results, and for the results of their teams..

The biggest mistake a manager can make is to assume that those on their teams “know what to do” and can “just get on with the work”. In fact, managers have a unique perspective of the work that they have gained form their manager, and which must be translated into terms that are appropriate for each of their team members.

To improve performance and for everyone to be productive, the delegation needs to be part of  consistent and clear communication, feedback, and coaching when it’s needed.

Successful delegation involves delegating single points of accountability to an individual who is as low as possible in the organization and has the capabilities and resources for success. Delegation isn’t just about being assigned work from above and passing it down; it requires that each person, no matter what position they’re in, to analyze the work they have been delegated, decide what they must personally do, and then chunk up the rest for appropriate delegation top team members.

Key takeaway

Your key takeaway: For every goal necessary for achieving your strategy, there must be a single point of accountability. The manager who has that single point of accountability must decide whether she or he must do all of the work or a part of it. Once he or she has decided what must be done personally, the rest of the work must be “chunked up” and “delegated down”. Whatever the decision, the Single Point fo Accountability manager is accountable for the results.

See the VidCast on our YouTube Channel

Watch the VidCast on using the Effective Point of Accountability®.

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Delegating Work – Part 4 in the Accountability Series

This short video discusses delegating work down the organization. It introduces the concept of the single point of accountability, and the two most common mistakes that are made when delegating work. Learn how you can use accountability to improve performance.

This video is Part 3 in the Effective ManagersTM Understanding Accountability

View Here

Implementing a Culture of Accountability – It’s Not Easy But it Can Be Done

Dwight Mihalicz,

You have your strategy in place. It was an inclusive process that involved exhaustive consultation with stakeholder and employees. All the Key Performance Indicators have been set and assigned. The Scorecard is in place, and regular reporting is required.

And still things are going off the rails!

It’s time for a culture of accountability, you say?

Not so fast. The issue that most organizations run into with a culture change is that it doesn’t stick with the organization. It has to be managed as a change project – really a transformation project. This requires the CEO and senior management coming to grips with what will be done differently in the organization.

What is Keeping You Awake at Night?

Dwight Mihalicz,

When I was an individual contributor the things that kept me awake at night tended to be self-recrimination about things I could have done better.
  • “How could I have missed that deadline?”
  • “Why didn’t I see that possible outcome?”
  • “How could I have missed that step?”

 As a manager, the focus of the “if only” conversations in my head changed. They were no longer about what I could or should have done differently. They were about what I might have done differently so one of my team members would have done something differently.

  • “What were they thinking when they did that?”
  • “How could they not have understood the importance of that deadline?”
  • “How could they not have known how much this delay would cost us?”

Respect – Can You Ever Have Too Much?

Dwight Mihalicz,

Earning the respect of your team is important but it needs to be used wisely

Martin* was skillfully leading his team through a really rough meeting. Their mission-critical project was behind schedule. The investors were getting nervous. Martin was getting nervous. And of course that made the team nervous. Martin obviously had the respect of his team. In fact he was revered. And yet I could see hat things were going horribly wrong.

What was happening? Isn’t respect in the leader a good thing?

Yes. But.

And the but is a big one. Think about the person you respect the most. Now picture that person asking you a favour. A big favour. What would be your response? Naturally, you would do everything in your power to make it happen.

I see the same thing happening in management team meetings all the time. When that respected leader asks that something be done, the team members will do their best to make it happen. Where does reality fit into this? If one of the team members knows in their heart that his or her deliverable is highly unlikely, will they speak up? Probably not… they will be assuring themselves that they can find a way. If most or even all of the team members feel this way, what is he likelihood of success? Almost nil!

Where Does Accountability Come From?

Dwight Mihalicz,

Part 3 of the Effective ManagersTM Understanding Accountability Series

In Part 1 of our series on Understanding Accountability we learned that accountability is often not well understood or implemented in organizations, which leads to organizational drift. This lack of clarity of accountability for work priorities often causes strategy execution to fail. As part of our solution, we created a working definition of accountability that is worth repeating:

“Accountability is an obligation for which one can be held to account for one’s results and one’s actions by a specified other.”

Copyright © 2017 - Dwight Mihalicz -Sage Effective Managers