Sunday, February 10, 2008

What is Accountability?

The next three months will be the busiest time I’ve had since becoming a self-employed person three and a half years ago. It feels good.

When I left the National Health Service it was a bit of a risk. The truth is the time had come for a parting of the ways. I am able now to see clearly that I was no longer good for the NHS after 35 years and the NHS was certainly not good for me.

I had become stale, disillusioned and dull. I still had loads of energy to offer but I felt tired.

I pledged to myself that a return to a 'contract job' on a full time basis on someone else’s payroll would be a defeat for me.

So far I have managed to eat every month for 40 months as a freelancer.

I still feel that the last thing I would ever want to do is return to some office based job in a large organisation.

I love working from home. I love my freedom. I love my self-imposed rules. I love my new accountability.

Let me say some more about this word 'accountability.'

I left surely the most ‘layered’ management structure in UK business in the National Health Service. You would think therefore I would have felt ‘accountable’ in that environment. Not true.

I now realise I am truly ‘accountable’ to the person who knows me best – and that is the person I see in the mirror. That is REAL accountability. Holding yourself to your own standards is a real test.

If I deliver for my customer I look in the mirror and know that I did a good job. If I fall short that guy in the mirror will let me know. The mirror test works for me.

The accountability I now have is like hanging - it concentrates the mind.

To whom are you accountable?


Rocky said...

Accountability is huge in the business. Sadly though I think that accountability is really lacking in much of the business world. There are a lot of people that seem to like money. However, it seems that many people these days do not want to earn their money. If more people took the mirror test and became serious about passing the test things may get better. Don't get me wrong I know there are many many people that are accountable and good workers, but there seems to be a growing number of people that miss this. As Rosa Say would say at Managing With Aloha, "Kuleana" which means responsibility and accountability is a vital value in the business world.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Amigo - I think it is about having a high work ethic. My late beloved Dad brought me up to believe we get nothing for nothing and that is sound advice in my view.

Dave Wheeler said...

What a great question....I too learned my work ethic from my father. I certainly hold my self responsible and accountable for what I do. I can't lead any group to a higher level that I am capable of achieving myself, so I'm accountable to me and hold me to a pretty tough performance standard. In business I have always viewed this as a customer/supplier issue. I'm accountable to my customers. If I define a customer as the person who uses the product or sevice my job produces and being in a leadership position then I'm accountable to my boss and those that I lead. People above us on the org rely on me and my crew to provide a superior product and a flawless service experience. The folks on my team rely on me for many things not the least of which is the training and resources they need to do their job. Since both of these groups is gonna blame....uh, make me accountable.....for providing these things, it keeps it simple and staightforward.

Trevor Gay said...

Excellent comments Dave - thanks for them.

There is simply nothing like the mirror test. I hold myself to much higher standards than any organsaation or boss could ever hold me to. I think that is the case for the vast majority of us.

Take care

Ruth said...

First reaction to that question was :eek:

Personally.. yes the mirror and our goldfish lol.

The ability to lay accountability at a doorstep belongs to everyone.

That is the element of common sense that needs to be carefully weighed, measured and incorporated into everything done.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Ruth - the best person to set personal standards is always ourself.