To be truly effective, school leaders must be able to help find ways to create higher levels of ownership and joint accountability for achieving key results. Teachers should be accountable but the questions are to whom and how? If all staff feel accountable they will focus on performance and support the system in spotting errors and be able to offer the right solutions and action them.
Here are 3 simple steps to creating a positive accountability structure:
1. Engage staff in the ‘why’ (own it)
Most leaders are very good at sharing school development plan priorities and key goals for the school, and many teachers are able to recite these. However it doesn’t mean they have bought into actioning them or being responsible for them. People need to know the reason behind them and ‘buy-in’ to them. When staff have a purpose and a sense of fulfilment they subscribe to the targets and tasks with greater enthusiasm. If teachers are given targets that they feel no connection to they are likely to dismiss them and not engage in the process of achievement at all. You can assign tasks but you can’t make people accountable. Accountability is an act of will.
- Bring clarity (see it)
If people are not clear on what they need to be doing and by when, no action can take place. We may think we are brilliant communicators, as we already know our message and our expectation. What we share with others may not be as clear as we think. We need to check-in by asking questions and listening. Have they really understood? Do they know the timescales, parameters and expectations? This may take a while but it will save you time and energy by not having to re-explain tasks and micromanage when things have been misunderstood.
- Model great accountability (solve it)
Refrain from playing the ‘blame game’. We all have a tendency to feel negative when we are tired and under pressure. This can lead to avoiding dealing with issues and people, blaming others and making excuses ‘not enough time’. All of these take up valuable energy and displace accountability. As leaders we have a choice to either get stuck in this pattern and be a part of the issue or become solutions-focused and take control. It takes courage to act when performance falls below the line. As leaders we need the grit to take responsibility so that others may follow.
Following the three steps can create a culture of personal accountability and responsibility in the workplace and create lasting solutions and a greater sense of equity. There really is an additional fourth step… ‘Do it!’
Nothing changes if you don’t make the change.
I am passionate about change and improved performance. If you need the space and a fresh perspective on accountability- let’s talk.