Many people fear change, but Accountability Charts are valuable Team by Design resources that improve communication, efficiency, and collaboration
The Accountability Chart is one of the most powerful tools in the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®). It takes the general concept of an organizational chart to an entirely new, far more useful level by answering a crucial question: who is accountable for what, exactly?
Leaders creating an Accountability Chart map out the ideal organizational structure by function and who should hold who accountable, enabling far better alignment, communication, collaboration, and (you guessed it) accountability.
Pretty awesome stuff, right? Who could have a problem with that?
Well, hold up for a second. Rolling out an Accountability Chart to the rest of the company after agreeing to it at the leadership level involves changes to one degree or another — and many people are suspicious of change. In addition, some team members may be territorial, fear the idea of adding or subtracting responsibilities, or worry about what it could mean to their title, salary, and ego.
That’s why it’s crucial to approach an Accountability Chart rollout the right way, explaining to the team what the tool does and getting their buy-in. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. An Accountability Chart is a resource, not a chore
Just as we get specific about who does what, we should also outline the Accountability Chart’s benefits and why it exists. And the best way to do that is by pointing out the problems it solves. Every organization is different, but many of them have the same issues that are addressed by outlining accountabilities:
We don’t have clarity of roles and responsibilities — remember when Steve went to three different people before finding the right one to address his problem?
Our communication could be better; sometimes, two people are working on the same thing or getting in each other’s way.
Everybody feels like they are doing too many things and wearing too many hats.
The Accountability Chart solves or improves many of these challenges. At its core, it does so by enabling confidence, efficiency, and understanding:
We are doing this to gain clarity on how you can collaborate and communicate so everyone knows exactly who to ask to resolve issues. It will help us all function better.
2. Understand that it’s a process and a living tool — and don’t make quick decisions about job titles or salaries
Once you complete an Accountability Chart, it’s not necessarily perfect nor set in stone. We still need to kick the tires and take these new accountabilities out for a test drive to determine if everything works as intended. Remember, we’ve created this chart after considering how we should operate. But sometimes, that needs to change with the market, consumer needs, or other factors. Getting to the best structure might require some iteration.
A couple of things commonly come up during an Accountability Chart’s trial run. One of them is making tweaks, such as adding, subtracting, or further clarifying details. Perhaps there is a better way to describe someone’s accountability, or everyone realizes that it’s more efficient to shift an accountability to another individual since they do some of its foundational tasks anyway. Again, while an Accountability Chart implementation process isn’t exactly fluid — we do want to achieve relative stability and consistency — it is iterative.
Another issue may revolve around job titles and salaries. It’s not uncommon for a team member to assess their new role and say, “I have more on my plate,” or “I’m more essential,” and “What about a raise?” Often, this involves the individual named to the crucial Integrator role but also may happen with others who believe their accountabilities have expanded. In this case, a wise course of action for leaders is to resist pressure and avoid making fast decisions.
Instead, it’s important to stress that the Accountability Chart is still in the testing phase:
Let’s put this into practice. Incrementally, we’ll understand whether we had it right or if we need to tweak it. First, we need everyone to prove the concept and meet their accountabilities.
Once each individual shows that they’ve stepped into the role and become the right person in the right seat, raises, title changes, and similar discussions might be on the table.
3. Don’t call it a restructure
The dreaded “R” words — “restructure” or “reorg” — can call to mind others: “risk” or “redundancy.” And even individuals who feel confident about keeping their jobs may stress about the change that any talk of “reorganizing” implies.
In some situations, a new Accountability Chart could reflect significant alterations, especially if People Analyzer and GWC (Get, Want, and have the Capacity to do a job) exercises resulted in someone no longer being on it, or leaders shift a team to an entirely different company area. But in most applications, titles, salaries, and everything else stay the same. And in every case, it’s important to stress what the Accountability Chart does: it clarifies what roles do what and the lines of communication and accountability.
So, don’t refer to it as or imply it’s a reorganization. Instead, stress that accountability revolves around “functions,” not “ego” or “titles.” It’s simply a necessary exercise to define these roles, including their responsibilities and how team members should collaborate.
4. Achieve clarity in the details
Anxiety and resistance often stem from misunderstanding, so be upfront, open, and detailed about the Accountability Chart. Get specific!
This specificity includes defining both the seats each individual holds and what key responsibilities are within each seat. For example, say we’ve defined three crucial roles of Visionary, Community Builder, and Operations Manager. In some businesses, “Bob,” the owner, may hold all three; in many others, he might have the first two, and another person (“Jen”) might be in the third. Regardless, be explicit about who is doing what.
From there, the Accountability Chart must also get specific about what’s needed from each seat. For example, the Visionary is responsible for maintaining the culture and key relationships, plus setting strategy and making big decisions. In contrast, the Integrator is responsible for KPIs and P&L statements while managing day-to-day operations. And a sales or marketing manager elsewhere on the Accountability Chart may have items as granular as “Getting signed contracts” and “Generating leads.”
Whatever the role, be very clear and detailed about the items. The goal here is to eliminate doubt about who is actually accountable for driving those results or making those decisions.
An Accountability Chart should inspire confidence, not worry
Again, many people are suspicious of change, especially when it involves their livelihood. There’s an old entrepreneurial saying: “Change payroll by one day and see how the company falls.” Any workplace adaptation may encounter resistance, especially those that might cause employees to become insecure about their status.
That’s why it’s crucial to frame an Accountability Chart as what it is and not what it isn’t. We aren’t doing a “reorg.” And if a team member has even made it on the chart, they’ve passed the critical tests of culture fit and GWC. Now, we’re just making communication, collaboration, and accountabilities explicit and more effective.
If we use it as a live document that is always evolving and shifting to become clearer and improve communication, it will become one of the most powerful tools for your team. And when people see its purpose and value, they will buy into it and put in the effort to make it work.
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