What Does Accountability Mean?

You may have guessed that in a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) the focus is on results. Not time, not physical presence. Once you have identified the results and performance expectations, accountability comes next.

What does Accountability look like in a ROWE? What does Accountability look like for government?

As a Human Resources professional with almost 20 years of experience, accountability is something that I have seen in many shapes and forms over the years. I was a General Electric (GE) employee where each year 20% of the staff was turned over. They wanted to see new ideas and keep the culture churning. It defined GE.

On the flip side, I have worked with government agencies where there has been no turnover in 13 years. Really? 13 years? Are we holding people accountable?

The examples I gave are two extremes. Or, hopefully the two extremes in the workplace.

In a Results-Only Work Environment, people need to be held accountable. Otherwise, you do not have a ROWE. You have a glorified flex plan and who wants that? One of the main problems with focusing on flexibility instead of results is the lack of accountability that is perpetuated within the work culture. Our consulting firm, CultureRx, helps public and private sector organizations get to results and accountability…and get past the flexibility conundrum.

Despite some beliefs out there, holding people accountable doesn’t mean they will be fired the first time they miss a deadline. You have to step back and look at a few things. Were the expectations clear? Did the person have the tools available to achieve the results? Were they trained? If all of those pieces were fulfilled, then the next step is to have a conversation about why a deadline was missed. (And in a ROWE, excuses like “I was on vacation” are never appropriate). Maybe discipline is appropriate. Organizations will want to review their handbooks and consult with their internal Human Resources if needed.

Bottom line: Focus on results and hold people accountable to achieving those results. You will end up with a culture that is productive and healthy.

To learn more about Results-Only Work Environment, visit gorowe.com Stacey Swanson can be followed on Twitter @StaceyMSwanson

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