Step up or step out

A look at how the concept of employee accountability is important for your practice.

There comes a point in your hires when they either “step up” or you ask them to “step out.” How do you know? They either step into accountability or they don’t.

Accountability is more than commitment, more than strong intention, more than hard work, more than “I'll give it everything I got.” Accountability is all about accepting responsibility.

You need to ask yourself this difficult question: is this person willing to be totally "answerable" for the targets and objectives required to succeed in their work? Are they willing to be fully and wholly responsible for achieving those targets and objectives? If not, they are not accountable.

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.”  â€• James C. Collins, Good to Great

There is no such thing as co-accountability. You cannot share accountability. It is either yours or it’s not. You are either the bottom-line or you’re not. You’re either responsible for making the target or you are not. When you are accountable, the only finger you point is at yourself.

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You can hear accountability in someone’s speech. What you don’t hear is, “I’ll try; I’ll work really hard; if everyone else does what they’re supposed to; I hope to; it will happen if the marketing works,” and so on. People who give themselves a backdoor are not accountable. If you don’t believe that a person can give and keep his or her word, or if you don’t think that they can take the full weight of the task without much direct management and assistance, then that person cannot be accountable.

What you will hear when someone is accountable is, “I will make it happen no matter what; you can absolutely count on me; the results will happen.” People who are accountable are willing to put themselves at risk in their speaking and their being. They are willing to declare they will be the bottom line no matter what. They are willing to step into the danger of failing and the consequences that come with it.

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What you want at your senior levels are those people who are accountable. They don’t require much management. They deliver the result time after time. They don’t make excuses. They don’t windbag, exaggerate, or side step. When someone is accountable they honor themselves as their word. They are able to make their word law. They don’t ask “how,” they ask “when.” If they can’t step up to their responsibilities, it might be time to ask them to step out.