Accountability in Action: How One Company President Applied Our Method for Building Accountability in Their Culture

By Bob Irish (recently retired)
For more information on the accountability method discuss, read our book.

A client reminded me of a firm I worked for more than thirty years ago where there was a lot of activity, people were very busy, sales were mediocre, but the profits were not what they should have been. There were too many employees trying to accomplish the same task while other tasks went unattended. Everyone was expected to get “the job done,” and all worked hard at doing that. The firm eventually went bankrupt. The next firm I worked at grew, developed excellent margins and thrived in a difficult economy. What made the difference between the organization that went bankrupt and the current company that thrived? Accountability. Initially, both of the companies lacked this key concept.

When I accepted the assignment with the second firm, Henry Evans’ excellent book “Winning with Accountability, The Secret language of High Performing Organizations” was not available. When the book was published, I read it and knew immediately it was the missing ingredient in every company I had ever encountered. In too many companies, accountability is associated with negative consequences. In Winning with Accountability, the four key pieces to solving the accountability puzzle are about producing positive communication and results.

To integrate accountability into the fabric of this current corporation’s culture, I took several specific steps.

  • I appointed myself CAO, Chief Accountability Officer
  • Everyone in the company received a copy of Winning with Accountability
  • Employees were dispersed into accountability groups to discuss real-time challenges and best practices
  • We wall mounted framed accountability posters in all of our conference rooms
  • We set everyone’s expectation, from the Chairman of the Board down, that accountability training was not a flavor of the month fad. As an organization we were going to learn true accountability
  • We practiced applying the four key principles (outlined in the book) until we were well-grounded in the practicality and application of this important concept.
  • When a new employee joined the team, they were given a copy of Winning with Accountability and mentored by the rest of the team.
  • Each employee carried the accountability wallet card behind their ID badge in their lanyard

Over time, team members learned and applied all four principles in Winning with Accountability, and they became a winning team – a team as well coordinated on the field of business as any professional sports team. Working together in an environment of clear expectations and specific goals, objectives, and requirements became second nature.

The result of adopting Winning with Accountability as our “field manual for success” exceeded my expectations. Today, company morale is high, turnover is nil and teamwork is the norm. Mistakes are dramatically down, duplication of effort is gone and profits are at an all time high. Margins are up more than eighteen percent in less than three years. During an economic recession, the company enjoys its greatest profitability without having to resort to layoffs to polish the bottom line. Best of all, employees own accountability. They do not need management to hold them accountable for consistently practicing the principles in Winning with Accountability; in fact, the reverse is true. Employees hold management accountable by expecting company leadership to practice winning with accountability.

About Bob Irish

Bureaucrat-in-Residence (Ret). Bob is a recently retired CEO for hire. Recently he left the helm of a company that grew 3x during his 5 year tenure as CEO. He contacted our Managing Partner, Henry Evans, to discuss the impact of our method on their company and as a result of that discussion, agreed to allow the use of his testimonial in the form of this article.

As always, we welcome your comments. Join us on facebook to share your experiences or email us at [email protected].

Want to learn how our accountability method can be used to improve your organization? Read our book.

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