Is Anybody Responsible?

How often have you looked over the areas of responsibility or the outcome areas of your business and wondered... Is anybody responsible for that? One of the most frustrating and fruitless responses that we get as leaders is that everyone is responsible. When everyone is responsible, then nobody is really responsible. Someone who is accountable for an area of business is the one who is accounting for its success or lack thereof. We spend a great deal of time mapping out job descriptions, making sure we have all of our legal bases covered so that we won't get sued, but we often forget to make sure we also succeed. We play great defense but sometimes forget to play offense.

Within any business, there are 10 or fewer functional accountability zones. These would be things like...

--Business development

--Financial management

--People development


--Customer management / Service

--Product / Service development

--Vendor management

--People recruitment and retention

--Facilities management and maintenance

--Food and nutrition

Think about the areas within your business. What would be the primary functional accountability zones? Now, the next big question is who is responsible for each of those zones? When you put names beside each zone, if you find that everything falls under one person or there is an inequity in accountability, you need to rethink how things are working. What I see most often is a company having one or more areas where "everybody" is responsible. This is what gets labeled because nobody is really responsible for the area.

The next struggle I typically see in the functional accountability zones is a lack of KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. We often generalize growth with statements like, "we will grow by 10%" instead of getting specific and measurable. In my business, for example, I know the average value of a client, so I focus on growing by a certain number of retainer clients in a given year. I know that this requires a certain number of outreaches to get to presentations to get to new retainer clients (10 to 4 to 1). This would be my KPI for business development. For marketing, I would measure the number of books sold or the number of monthly subscriptions to my e-learning platform ( I need 50 directed visits to get 1 sign up. So, if I want 100 subscriptions, I would need 5,000 people to go to the site to check it out. Whatever your measure, start broad and get granular so that you can coordinate the functional accountability zone efforts between the responsible parties.

When you think of success in terms of zones and map out each person that would be responsible for a zone of success, it becomes much easier to get a quick update on how things are going. The 10 zones listed above are the ones that come up most often in my coaching sessions with clients. It is likely that you don't have all of those, or you may have something that is completely different. Regardless of your labels, make sure that you do NOT have more than 10 functional accountability zones. As a leader, this enables you to know where your organization is and adapt to the needs going forward. Know your outcomes for each area. Know which individual is responsible for each area. And finally, hold people accountable for results. This means that you must praise them when they get it right (positive accountability) and confront them when they get it wrong (negative accountability). Play zone offense and defense and you will see significant increases in positive outcomes!

Play zone!

Jody Holland


©2018 by Jody Holland, Inc.