I was having a conversation with a Business Unit President the other day. He had been struggling with the “new” format of the workplace, where there’s more collaboration, distributed power, and accountability from shared commitments. “Within the new culture, there are a lot of places to hide in our corporate structure these days,” he began. “We have so many people who request to work on something ‘strategic’ that the teams are too large, and people are on way too many projects. We are trying too hard to give people those experiences, at the expense of our own productivity.” He continued: “What’s worse is when the projects go sideways or get difficult, many people find ways to ‘get off’ of the project and join something new. That way they aren’t held accountable for the outcome of the project.”
An Accelerating Trend
Accountability has gotten softer and more elusive. The rapid expansion of work from home positions, or the “hybrid” workplace has accelerated the switch from the Traditional Culture to the Goodness Culture. In the Traditional model, accountability was compliance and rules-based, with a sense of obligation to “my boss.” In the Goodness Culture, accountability comes from Negotiating Shared Commitments, and a sense of obligation “my colleagues.”
Over the past two months, I’ve been asking clients what they think of this story. 9 out of 10 say something like: “Yep, that’s happening here too.”
That’s why we launched the Accountability Research Project. I have talked with more than a dozen C-suite leaders who want “in” on this project. I’m certain I will be writing about this in weeks to come.
To become a part of the Accountability Research Project and learn more, click here.