Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 6. Tracking

Action is the real measure of intelligence.
Napoleon Hill

Fear or courage?
Tracking generates fear and inspires courage. It is the part of accountability that most consider when they think of accountability. Fear occurs when tracking is put in place before trust is earned with the accountability system. The lack of trust results from a fear that measurements that are not fair, goals are not defined, process is not defined or teamwork is not in place. Without trust many will feel any actions will be arbitrary and could lead to loss of pay, extra work, micromanagement or even termination. Without trust it is very hard to motivate a team long term by tracking results. Fear, while a possible short term motivator, does not yield consistent and stable results in the long term. The culture of accountability is not one of fear but rather courage. It is easy to gauge staff engagement in the culture of accountability by their response to tracking.

Accountability demands that goals are measured to determine success. It exposes actions and results and judges them as they relate to the desired level of success. If actions are judged fairly then bad results lead to the help necessary to make the right actions occur. Correcting problems reduces fear and builds courage. Courage only lasts when there is high trust in the accountability system.

Rewards and Consequences
With tracking there is the inevitable assessment that leads to rewards and consequences. It is important to use consequences rather than punishment and rewards versus gifts. There is nothing wrong with a gift unless it is presented as a reward. Gifts presented as rewards can confuse and hurt teamwork. Rewards are earned for working to achieve a goal. They support the activities that are desired. Likewise, embarrassing or mistreating someone is not a consequence but a punishment. It does not inspire trust and will not match the vision of those that bear the brunt of the punishment. A consequence, however removes something that is desired or does not provide it due directly to an expectation that was properly established. With great tracking the actual actions and results are understood and along with the person or team responsible. By having accurate information rewards and consequences are accurately given to encourage or discourage as needed. Teamwork is maintained with proper responses to tracking – Consequences and rewards maintain teamwork. Punishment and grants tend to hurt teamwork.

Focus on solutions and moving forward
Businesses always have problems. Tracking provides insights that allow correct action to occur. Once a problem is identified it must be addressed. Problems are not things to fear but rather opportunities to make changes to reach a goal. A problem is a result of

    • Bad communication
    • Incomplete or incorrect process
    • Insufficient skills
    • Poor teamwork
    • Poor alignment with the vision
    • Unrealistic goals
    • Missing or incorrect KPIs

The accountability system does not demand perfection, but rather progress. It is expected that you will have both good and bad results. With tracking you re-enforce the good and address the bad. As teams build their trust with the system and see improving results improvements occur and again courage is increased. Fully implemented, the tracking component becomes a favorite part of a high performance teams on-going operations.

Take away
When fear is present, first assume that the system is broken rather than the person is at fault. Start with communication to build trust. Once expectations are clear, the assessment of tracked results will illuminate the true issue that is creating problems. While it may be the wrong person or the wrong role, it is more likely to be an issue in the system rather than just one individual. Nonetheless, if the final assessment determines that an individual is the wrong type or fit, your hiring process will be fixed and your corrective action will be easy. Make sure to treat the person fairly – find another seat if that works or help with a new job as a last resort. Everyone will see real accountability at work and trust will be built and the culture of accountability will thrive.

Related topics

The 6 Rights of AccountabilityAccountability – Six things to get Right – Start with Vision
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 2. The Right Seat on the Bus
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 3. Process
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 4. Begin with the End in Mind
Acountability – Six Things to Get Right – 5. Teamwork
Three reasons measuring improves our results

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Dashboards – Mouse-over summary with drill-down different insightful piecharts and data exports

Speed to Insight

A good dashboard will quickly present results that matter to your success. A great dashboard will then allow a simple mouse-over and drill-down to provide insights or the data you need to do additional analytics to get to the reasons for the results.

The best of both worlds

Drill-downs are intended to provide quick access to relevant data without obscuring the summary data. In management terms, the initial dashboard is the 50,000 foot view and the drill down zooms into a lower level of detail. More importantly the details are specifically related to the performance results that are of interest. Once identified a nice dashboard will allow a simple mouse click to the detail that you need.

Different levels

A drill-down zooms into lower levels of detail. When there is a lot of data with either lots of stores, sales staff or machines it may benefit to break down into incremental levels. Here are three samples of how to use different types of drill-downs. Each level shows different insights that help find top selling items, stores, sales team or high quality machines. The data is there and different views show different perspectives.

Image of Convenience Store Performance Dashboard drilldown options showing details of foods sales Focus on one item –   In this example breakfast is the item of interest. Sales for retail are very easily categorized. Here the next level shows how many of each type of breakfast item was sold. It is important to see the details of why sales categories are increasing or decreasing. The pie chart show perspective. Notice, however that too many items make the pie chart clumsy – it becomes difficult to match the color in the pie chart to the item in the key.


Image of drilldown details of gallons sold for the week.
3-5 items show well in a pie chart
Many feel that a bar chart is better once the item count exceeds 5 or 6. In this example, the type of gas that is included in the total gallons is very clear.


Image of export format of tracked items sold in a convenience store in a week.
Do it yourself Sometimes we just need more analysis. Having the ability to grab raw data to analyze as you like or just print and share is really nice when you must get down to ‘ground level’.

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Creating dashboards that work for you
Convenience Store Performance Dashboards – Data Analytics Using Filters
Convenience Store Performance Analytics like Google Dashboard
Convenience Store Accountability Rules – Oh Yeah!
Convenience Store Performance Dashboards – KPIs with Drilldowns

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Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 5. Teamwork

‘Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability’
Patrick Lencioni


Having a culture of accountability implies an organization that works together. Accountability while positive and productive is not the natural state of work. Teamwork is the mechanism that enables it to overcome individual limitations and fears to produce results that cannot be achieved otherwise. It requires members to share trust, time and purpose.

Trust comes from consistency over time. Building a track record of delivering on promises is a great way to build trust. Ironically, making mistakes can also be a great trust builder. Everyone makes them, but not everyone deals with them with integrity The willingness to admit mistakes saves time and creates trust. After one admits to a mistake, it is much easier to change behavior to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Such changes improves processes and increases productivity. Peter Lencioni a leading management consultant says directly, “Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal. Creating a culture of accountability means developing a climate in which people can speak openly, admit to mistakes without fear, and worry more about serving the customer than looking better than a co-worker” Once the fear of reprisals for making a mistake is removed, there is less inertia to perform new tasks or take on a difficult assignment. Nonetheless mistakes are never fun to admit and share. When they do occur, great teams focus on the future – how to resolve the issue and how the entire team can avoid them going forward.

There is no way to avoid taking time if teamwork is to be promoted. It takes time to listen and debate an issue. It takes more time to address performance that is not optimal. Taking short cuts to save time always make things worse. Leaving unacceptable behavior alone sends a message that accountability and responsibility to the team are not critical. In order to have a team participate time is consumed in emails, calls, messages or meetings. How else can the team listen, share clarify and analyze plans, problems or situations? Thus the challenge to teamwork is the regular work pressure that takes away time, focus or energy from the team activities. There must be time allocated to make it happen. Allocating time to build teamwork means short-term pain – it will effect your existing work load. Be confident however, that the time is always there in the long run. Not taking enough time to address issues early means there will be time later to address it or the consequences of it. In the long run, team work saves time by finding solutions that were not known and eliminating wasted work.

Team work is a natural desire for many – we want to belong to something of which we are proud. Accountability starts with a vision. Team members that share this vision will naturally enjoy the benefits of having a team working to fulfill it. Such a purpose helps to drive healthy competition. It requires individual talents yet demands adherence to a share code that puts the group first.

Building teamwork is an essential part of accountability–it accomplishes things that its members cannot do individually. Accountability forces change or requires maintained performance to achieve results. Working as a team provides capabilities that enable individuals to surpass their individual capacity and capabilities. Teamwork is the key for organization growth as problems can be solved faster by

  • Bouncing ideas
  • Resolving impasses
  • Accessing different skills
  • Using different perspectives
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Assigning tasks to those that do them best
  • Improving inefficient methods
  • Balancing work loads
  • Eliminating wasted work

Related topics

The 6 Rights of AccountabilityAccountability – Six things to get Right – Start with Vision
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 2. The Right Seat on the Bus
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 3. Process
Accountability – Six Things to Get Right – 4. Begin with the End in Mind
Convenience Store Performance Dashboards – KPIs with Drilldowns

Learn More