Nearly every metaphor for corporate success has one thing in common: teamwork. From row boats, to orchestras, to well-oiled machines, every well-tread analogy acknowledges the power of collaboration. Why? Organizational cohesion and collaboration are critical to success. Great insights from Kirsten Blakemore Edwards (@KirstenBeMe), MA CPCC, Executive Facilitator at Partners In Leadership, writing here for Inc. These criteria are intrinsically aligned to the methodology of our Strategic Planning system “Stragile”. So how do you create this culture of collaboration in the first place? It starts with accountability. Get accountability right, and you get everything right. Here’s how:

1. Define Your Organization’s Key Results

Key Results are the three to five meaningful, measurable, and memorable organization-wide objectives around which your employees’ efforts should be aligned. Despite the importance of these goals, our Workplace Accountability Study revealed that only 15% of organizations clearly define and effectively communicate the Key Results they need to achieve success.

Once the company’s Key Results are determined, the next step to building accountability in the workplace is to articulate them in a digestible way and ensure that all employees fully understand what is required to achieve these objectives.

It’s crucial for employee buy-in that individuals understand the ways in which their daily actions can help or hinder the achievement of Key Results for the entire organization. Managers play a key role in making this connection for employees when they point all discussions around expectations and priorities back to the Key Results.

2. Practice Positive Accountability in the Workplace

An all-too-common issue inhibiting cohesion in the workplace and alignment around Key Results is the toxic “blame game.” When a benchmark target is missed or a project goes off the rails, employees may be inclined to say things along the lines of: “Well, that wasn’t my job.” This attitude impedes results, and feeds into a culture of “every man for himself” rather than “we’re all in this together.”

To cultivate cohesion, emphasize — and even incentivize — positive accountability in the workplace. The Oz Principle defines accountability as the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results–to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It.” When employees make this commitment, they hold themselves and others personally responsible for hitting deadlines and working to achieve the organization’s Key Results.

3. Establish Open Lines of Communication across the Organization

To unify your organization, it’s necessary to foster a culture of open communication. Rather than an environment in which employees passively await feedback from superiors, cultivate a workplace culture in which every member of the organization feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis.

By encouraging candid feedback loops, you create a culture in which every employee has a clear understanding of their responsibilities and feels comfortable coming to you for clarification. When employees don’t fear seeking feedback and are comfortable sharing feedback with others, accountability emerges as a natural result.

4. Track Employee and Team Progress Towards Company Goals

Leaders are responsible for regularly communicating and reinforcing both organizational and individual objectives, and laying the groundwork for meeting these goals.

Ensure that there is a set, organized system of tracking progress so that each employee clearly understands his or her role in achieving Key Results. Take advantage of weekly group meetings, biweekly check-ins, or one-on-ones to measure progress towards these goals, realign around common objectives, and keep employees accountable for results.

Orchestrating Success

Ultimately, to achieve unity around your company’s objectives, it’s a leader’s duty to clearly define Key Results, inspire high levels of accountability across the organization, create dynamic and positive feedback loops, and closely monitor progress toward important benchmarks. These four steps will help each employee feel valued at work and understand the greater impact of their day-to-day work, fostering a sense of teamwork and alignment that will drive success for your organization.

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