Is Accountability an Evolutionary Concept?

Over the last 12 months, as a trainer and a coach, I have heard many comments and complaints that indicate (for some) 2020-21 may not be the most productive the UK has ever seen. Is it ok to put this down to covid-19 or if change has happened do we all need a virtual kick up the backside to find a way to do more than survive in this “new normal”?

“There are just not enough hours in the day at the moment Alison. Honestly, I am keeping my head down and just doing what I can. Hopefully this lockdown will be the last then we can get back to normal”

Last March my goal was to focus on empathising through the small screen separating me and my learner, no judgement, just helping them to feel understood. After all it was an unexpected change, a shock and there was a lot of concern about people’s mental health. It made sense to me that however you got through the day at that point was ok.

Over time though I admit my approach began to change as many people’s worlds seemed to become more reactive.

“Everything takes much longer now, people just aren’t getting back to me the way they did before lockdown, I guess it’s to be expected?”

I could throw in Parkinsons Law – something we need to be careful of during these times.  Work expands to the amount of time you have which is why we say ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person’.  So should we be setting deadlines for ourselves and others to keep us on track or simply challenge our assumption that taking longer is to be expected? What happens when we begin to think that the lack of productivity is ‘to be expected’?

Putting together a team effectiveness programme for a struggling team last summer I reflected on the conversations I had with this team and others. They were clued up individuals who knew how to get things done when the chips were down. They hadn’t necessarily lost the skills they need to be productive, but they have lost the mindset that underpins them using those skills on a daily basis! They just aren’t feeling the Accountability working out of back bedrooms and kitchens, feeling isolated and missing the support and motivation that a team can bring.

I love the meaning of accountability . Things happen because of me, what an empowering mindset to have! For some people over the last 12 months their sense of motivation and drive has reduced. It feels easier to ‘just get through today’ and think about being proactive another day. But what started as a simple mantra to get through the shock of the early part of lockdown has now become a way of working that has a significant impact on individual and business productivity.

So I have made it my purpose when working with teams and coaching on a 1:1 basis to promote Accountability and what we have called the I Have Got This! mindset (*) in every encounter.

  • “I haven’t had any feedback from my manager for months, I just get on with it and it seems to be working” – Response “Who needs the feedback more, you or your manager? How can you make time in his diary to have that conversation?”
  • “Our clients won’t have the money to buy from us this year” – Response “What do you think their priorities are at the moment. How could you collaborate with them to come up with a different service for 2021?”

A Change has happened, Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” I appreciate that accountability is a human construct but I would like to add it into Darwin’s mix. Right now, we need to be at our most adaptable and accountable, its something we can find in ourselves and encourage in the teams we work manage.

Greater accountability is the key to business survival and evolution. Acknowledge the challenges we face from home schooling kids to being the only person who has to be in the office daily, but also each day let’s make great things happen because of us! It not only boosts that ‘happy feeling’ for ourselves but also helps those we work with see what CAN be done even in challenging times.

Alison Burgess

* I Have Got This! helps individuals and teams to thrive and evolve in times of uncertainty and change.  Our ‘It’s the Thought That Counts’ 4 week learning and development programme is all about building an ‘I have got this’ mindset.  The weekly calls, daily challenges and social learning, helps teams thrive through change and creates positive thinking habits help us be bold, resilient, motivated and confident in our abilities so that we can all be the architect to our future. 

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