The secret to high performing, effective teams

accountability effective teams managers teams work culture workplace Aug 09, 2022

Accountability is the solution to all of your team’s problems. But first, it needs a reframe.

If you’ve ever uttered the words “why is everything so much harder than it needs to be?” when looking at how your team operates, you’re not alone. In fact, in my years working in team operations and program management, it was one of the questions I heard most - asked as if there’s some mystical force sprinkling ineffectiveness fairy dust onto our teams, causing people to work in silos and not talk to each other.

Spoiler alert, although let’s face it, you knew it was coming: there’s no fairy dust. And the reason teams and organizations get stuck, see overlaps in roles and responsibilities, miss deadlines and deliverables, reopen decisions, and have high turnover, all, YES ALL, points to one thing: an absence of accountability.

Therefore, as the title of this newsletter kindly foreshadowed, accountability is the solution to all of your team’s problems.

Before I dive into how to get there, I’ll be the first to say, accountability needs a reframe. We tend to look at it as punishment or blame, and by this definition, when the word is mentioned, people shift uncomfortably in their seats, or remove you from future meeting invites.

But accountability isn’t about either of these things, it is about ownership. Reframing our perspective of accountability into ownership transforms how our teams approach problem solving, how they perceive their role in their work and careers, the way they prioritize their work. This is our fairy dust.

Now, how do we operationalize ownership?

This is the key. We set clear expectations. And this doesn’t mean “get it done or else,” this means we discuss and set expectations around ALL aspects of our work - deadlines, navigating shifting priorities, risks and mitigations, and most of all, we set expectations around what SUCCESS looks like, what done looks like.

The result?

Higher performing teams because we’re clear on who does what and have a mechanism for talking about tradeoffs. A greater sense of wellbeing because we know how to be successful and advance within our organization. A stronger sense of purpose because we know how our work fits into the bigger picture.

Let’s reframe our organizations’ and teams’ perspectives on accountability into ownership and set clear expectations so we can all reap these benefits.

Want me to help sprinkle some accountability fairy dust on your teams, leading to greater effectiveness, motivation, and retention on your teams? Email me at [email protected] or learn more at


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