The Secret to Accountability

In my work as a consultant to hundreds of landscape pros over the years, I have listened to the issue of accountability come up again and again. How, other business owners ask me, can they hold their teams to the tasks they’re assigned and the results they need to deliver? How should they address underperformance? How do they motivate their people to care as much about the business as they do?

As the owner of a landscaping company, I have faced these same challenges too. And while there’s no simple fix, I can tell you that accountability actually starts with the owner—not your team. As one of my oldest and dearest friends likes to remind me:

When you point a finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

And yet this truth is often overlooked. Think about it: As business owners, who really holds us accountable? Our banks, to a certain degree; our spouses too. But who ensures that, day by day, we’re doing what we said we were going to do? Who ensures we’re thinking about the bigger picture of strategy, control, and growth and are making real progress, week by week, to achieving it? Who tells us when we’re wrong?

Here are three tactics to improving owner accountability that I know actually work:

1. Create a system for yourself.

Anyone who has spent time with me knows I’m never far away from my Shinola journal; it’s where I keep a running, color-coded list of everything I need to do and have promised others I would do. I am fanatical about organizing it and keeping it up to date, crossing items off when I complete them and adding others as they come up. Whether you go old-school like me or prefer an app with all the bells and whistles, it doesn’t matter; the important thing is that you have a system and that you use it religiously.

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2. Foster a HOT workplace culture.

HOT stands for Honest, Open, and Transparent, and it’s the surest way I know to being able to give and get the no-holds-barred feedback to and from your team that you need in order to win at accountability.

3. Join a peer group.

Having facilitated peer groups for some 16 years now, I have personally seen the power this model has to transform people, both professionally and personally. When run right, with a structure and curriculum optimized for results, peer groups drive owner accountability—which in turn drives success. That’s why we call ours the ACE Peer Group Program, because Accountability Creates Excellence.

What are you doing to drive accountability at your company? Spend some time this week thinking about that and then start taking concrete steps to get better.

Learn more about our ACE Peer Group Program—and see if it’s right for you—here.