Accountability – our own and other people’s – plays a huge role in a successful HardTalk. It’s a topic we love and we say holding people accountable isn’t cruel, it’s the kind thing to do. So what happens when accountability doesn’t?

“Of course accountability doesn’t apply only to rank and file employees. Managers and leaders should be accountable for holding others accountable. After all, isn’t getting good results with and through other people the very reason we have managers and leaders?

I once visited a client organization that employed about 1,300 people. By some standards, an employee population of only 1,300 isn’t a big company. But in this particular highly specialized, highly technical industry, 1,300 is about average.

I was called in to work with the senior management team on culture and performance issues. At dinner one evening, I asked one of the top executives a pointed question: “Last year, how many of your 1,300 employees received a ‘Needs Improvement’ performance appraisal rating?”

“Six,” my friend answered.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “My question must not have been clear. Of all of your 1,300 employees, how many of them …”

He went on to describe his organization as similar to Garrison Keeler’s mythical Lake Wobegone community where all the men are handsome, all the women are beautiful, and all the children are above average…”

Renowned author Dr Rodger Dean Duncan tells us more in this Forbes article – we hope you like the ladder of accountability as much as us:


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