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Many organisations are asking their employees to step up to new levels of initiative, teamwork, customer service, and more.

Many employees are asking their employers to step up to new levels of flexibility in where, when, and how they complete their work.

Both trends have been dramatically accelerated by the pandemic and both trends require aligned autonomy balanced with accountability to deliver better outcomes rather than worse ones. Unfortunately, despite leaders’ efforts to embrace these changes – slogans and banners and management looking over employees’ shoulders aren’t enough to transform a culture.

Calling a group, a team does not make it a team. Aligned autonomy balanced with accountability, built on a foundation of trust, makes it a team. An aligned team pushes towards clear goals, with the autonomy and freedom to work independently to achieve those goals. This is accelerated by delegating as many decisions and tasks as possible to capable colleagues, freeing them to move faster and more purposefully. The natural tension between alignment and autonomy is balanced through frequent effective progress reviews, which enable the team to track progress and hold themselves and each other accountable.

Of course, the best kind of accountability is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the manager, anonymously complaining to have them stop what they are doing to intervene. However, when expectations are unclear, one does not have the right to hold others accountable to violations they may not even be aware of. If you don’t know precisely what you are looking for, you have no right to expect it. Only after you’ve clarified your new expectation do you have the right to begin having accountability discussions with those who violate the new standards. More than a right, it will be a responsibility.

The world of work is changing. It’s an opportunity to re-set expectations, part ways with stuffy past practices and create a culture of accountability with aligned autonomy.

Book your place on the ‘Creating a Culture of Accountability’ workshop and learn about a simple but powerful tool to help you and your organisation achieve exactly that.