During the class, there was a case study discussion about a hospital that was trying to solve the problem of nurses not always scanning patient bar codes and medications 100% of the time.
In the discussion, I was disappointed that an attendee fell back on saying:
“We'd hold staff accountable.”
When I hear that phrase, I always have to ask what they mean.
Unfortunately, it too often mean “we'll blame and punish them.”
I've written about this before:
As I've blogged about before, it's not “accountability” to blame staff for problems that are out of their control:
As I thought about this more, I wondered if hospitals that would “hold staff accountable” for some sort of problem had ever engaged them and asked them how to solve such a problem?
Did managers and executives listen and help when staff tried to speak up about problems and their ideas?
If not, it's totally unfair to try to force accountability on people who you haven't allowed to BE accountable.
Kaizen – the process of engaging people in identifying problems and testing improvement ideas in a Plan-Do-Study-Adjust requires teamwork. Teamwork requires mutual respect — and if respect isn't there, it's on leaders to start creating a respectful environment.
When we have respect, teamwork, and Kaizen… then we can actually have accountability. That's true accountability… what somebody described as “healthy accountability” in a LinkedIn discussion I started the other day.
I'd be curious what you think about this topic. Would a book titled “The Accountability Myth” pique your interest?
I think the myth is that accountability is something that a leader can force on others.
The myth is that “naming, blaming, and shaming” leads to improvement and success.
We need alternatives… we need leaders who are willing to work together with employees to identify and solve problems instead of just “naming, blaming, and shaming.”
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