Training Alone Doesn’t Assure Accountability

Skill building or training can address leader behaviors and practices in the workplace – to some degree.


After all, we have all experienced workshop participants learning new skills and practicing those skills – quite effectively – in role plays during training. Observing those players demonstrate those skills could lead one to believe, “OK, they’ve got it now!”


However, until desired behaviors are observed being demonstrated in the workplace, on the job, in real-time, one can’t expect that the training has fully translated into workplace behavior. This is why it is critical that one’s organization’s culture support senior leaders, team leaders, and team members modeling those new behaviors, as well.


This was a cause for concern when I was on a client discovery call recently with a sales colleague. On the call, my colleague and I posed questions about their current state, about their desired state, and then about the priorities for addressing identified gaps.


One of the biggest concerns raised was the lack of accountability across their field organization. “But, we’ve got a plan in place to address this,” the client explained. “We’re going to put them all through a class.”


(Uncomfortable silence from my colleague and me.) We re-engaged with the client, attempting to dig deeper to learn how the client thought an accountability class would change leader and team member behavior. However, the client believed that they have adequately planned to address this gap; they weren’t interested in discussing this “resolved” issue with us.


SKILLS for holding others accountable are different than ACTIONS for holding others accountable.


If skills have been effectively taught but desired actions are not observed, there are other things getting in the way. Attention must be focused on eliminating anything that hurts or hinders the demonstration of desired behaviors, which may include various:

  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Systems
  • Dynamics
  • Etc.


Four Steps to Consistent Accountability

Accountability is a huge requirement in high performance, values-aligned culture. Our proven culture change process helps senior leaders be explicitly clear about performance and values expectations, and then hold all organization members, from senior leaders through front line staff, accountable for exceeding those expectations.


Our clients have had tremendous success in creating consistent accountability by implementing these four steps:

  1. Process Coaching – senior leaders need guidance on how to proactively champion their desired high performance, values-aligned culture. Experienced consultants coach the senior leadership team on these steps and other vital activities to ensure traction.
  2. Create clarity – Create specific & measurable performance goals. Define values in behavioral terms. Get agreement from all players to embrace both.
  3. Gather & Share Data – Monitor performance progress regularly and provide feedback on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Create a custom values survey which ranks the extent to which leaders demonstrate desired valued behaviors each day. Share these results within three weeks of final data gathering. Run the values survey twice annually. Successive runs of the custom values survey will include staff as well as leaders.
  4. Praise & Redirect – Regularly celebrate high performers and great citizens (those who demonstrate desired values). Promptly redirect leaders and staff to increase performance to standard or better citizenship. If a values-aligned player struggles to meet performance expectations, reassign them into a role where they contribute. If they are unable to contribute in any role, you need to lovingly set them free – let them find employment elsewhere. If a player does not demonstrate desired valued behaviors, you must reaffirm values expectations and observe closely. If they can make the shift to values-alignment (it is rare), celebrate! If not, lovingly set them free.

An accountability system ensures your organization is successful increasing accountability for demonstrating performance and values.


Contributed by S. Chris Edmonds, Founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. 

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