The Increasing Importance of Accountability and Expectation Setting

January 9, 2019

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While I am passionate about accountability and expectation setting, I haven’t always understood them.  Once, when I was young, I was supposed to be watching my brother, but instead, I was on the phone for an hour talking to my friends (the days when you would pull the cord as long as it would go and find a closet or room to talk in privately). My brother was busy during that hour. He found a snake and released it into the house. For my punishment, I had to do his chores for a week and was grounded. And, we never found the snake… #accountabilityfail.

During my professional career, I was lucky to be mentored by a few people who helped me bridge my youthful understanding of accountability and expectation setting into the workplace. When you work and serve clients and customers in a highly matrixed and global environment, trust matters. And to build and maintain trust, I argue you must:

  • Set clear expectations to your key stakeholders on who you are, what you will deliver and what your values are
  • Hold yourself accountable to the expectations you set

FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence, the global strategy and intelligence practice I lead, surveyed 2,000 engaged U.S. and U.K. consumers in July 2018 for our #authenticinsights survey and we found that lack of face-to-face accountability is arguably the most important expectation on which a company needs to take a stand: 70% of U.S. consumers think a lack of face-to-face accountability is extremely or very important as a cultural issue. Over half of those expect companies to take a stand on accountability. Moreover, the most important actions a company can take to improve consumer opinions of it are:

  • Being committed to doing the right thing (77%)
    • More important to females and the silent generation (73+ years old)
  • Contributing to society to make a positive impact on the community (74%)
  • Agreeing to be held accountable for behaving, and acting in support of its position on social issues (71%)

U.S. consumers expect the companies that they buy products and services from to take a stand on many issues that are important to them. Perhaps it is time for another “P” in the marketing mix: “position” on issues. Businesses need to understand how those hot-button issues intersect with their corporate values and demonstrate accountability according to those values by addressing them proactively and authentically.

If you don’t hold yourself accountable, your key stakeholders surely will.