Talking about Accountability can be a slippery slope; especially in a society where no one seems to be accountable anymore. This is a critical principle because, without it, we will fail – not just individually, but collectively. The rules are changing, and in this new economic and political climate, accountability will mark the difference between companies who are solvent and companies who are just a memory.
To the client, you are the face of your organization. Your client won’t share with others that Company XYZ can be counted on. They’ll share that Jane, Tom or Nancy can be counted on. Do your clients say this about you? Can people look to you to be –
- A Rock— Can your boss count on you 100 percent? Can your clients? By meeting all your obligations efficiently and on time, you earn a valuable reputation for dependability.
- A Smarty— Are you known for making good decisions? Your clients count on you for sound judgment. Make sure you gather all relevant information and look at issues from all perspectives before you act.
- A Fixer— Are you willing to correct a mistake, even if it wasn’t your fault? Rather than pointing fingers when errors occur, focus on solving the problem. Then backtrack to identify what went wrong and how similar situations can be avoided.
- A Trusted Source— Be up-front when you do make a mistake and come prepared with a solution. Hiding problems only forestalls the inevitable.
Steps you can take to build your Accountability Quotient include:
- Make deadlines a priority— Work with clients to set realistic timeframes on projects. Then make sure you always meet your deadlines. If for reasons beyond your control a project is running late, let your client know as soon as possible. This isn’t the business climate in which to avoid the tough conversations.
- Don’t be a “hanging Chad” – Make sure projects stay on track from start to finish. Start to view project holistically and from the client’s perspective. Don’t just see your small piece of the pie. If there is a setback or confusion during a project, take the lead in moving toward resolution.
- Keep in mind the chain of accountability— You’re accountable to your manager, who, in turn, is accountable to his or her boss. This chain of command is paralleled within your client’s organization. Always be aware that your mistakes reflect poorly on your client, and on the flip side, your successes make her look good. The more you can make your client shine in front of others, the more valuable you’ll be.
- Let the buck stop with you— If coworkers or clients are having trouble finding help, try to point them in the right direction or find a solution for them, even if the matter doesn’t directly involve you. By lending a helping hand you’ll develop a reputation as the person who gets things done.
- The devil is in the details – Try to make your work as accurate as possible before it reaches others. Sometimes it helps to put written communications such as emails and work orders aside for a few minutes before proofing them again and sending them on. You’ll be able to catch errors that you might otherwise miss.
- Plan for success – In times like these, it is easy to plan to avoid failure rather than to plan for success. The former is a defensive strategy and the latter an offensive strategy. Planning for success means that you are using your knowledge and creativity to make good choices, not just safe choices.
Being known as Accountable is likely to make you the go-to person for your clients. Show me the down side of that.
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Jane Gentry leverages her experience with Fortune 500 clients to help mid-market companies grow revenue by solving key sales issues like: process, pipeline, leadership, relationship management and hiring. She speaks worldwide on topics about sales growth and leadership. Her clients include companies in manufacturing, medical, professional services and technology.
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