Kaleidoscopy: What it Means to be Accountable

Lately we have focused on accountability here at CopyPress. Accountability has been at the heart of our company since its inception and is one of our Core Values, but at the beginning of 2014 we decided not only to observe and preach about the principle, but to put special emphasis on its implementation and its implications.

What does it mean to be Accountable? What do we understand as Accountability?

Setting a culture of accountability is creating a culture of fairness and responsibility. It is also creating a culture based on equality: to equal effort, there must an equal reward.

As we have said in the past, the true nature of a company is based on the people who are part of it. It is the people on the bus who define where the bus will go. In our company, accountability is the ticket to come along for the ride.

The reason to have such a driven focus on this particular principle is because so many other principles and values depend on this one being followed. For example, one of our strongest Core Values is Community, and you cannot create a true community, within our office walls or beyond them, if you don’t treat the members of such community under equal terms.

Accountability is about keeping the promises we make. It is about our integrity and how strongly we will fight to make good on our word and to deliver what is expected from us. Being accountable means taking responsibility for your failures and your successes, but most importantly it means showing respect to yourself and to others.

Accountability Starts with Respect

I expect people to hold themselves accountable because that is where true respect for others starts. Respect begins with yourself. If you don’t respect yourself enough to put 110% of your energy into what you do, because that’s what you committed to do, then how can you expect it from others?

Yes, we all make mistakes. We all have bad days – or weeks. We all lose our focus every now on and then, but accountability isn’t just about analyzing the results of what you did, it’s about how you did it. Did you put in 100%? Did you work as hard as you could to make it happen? Did you give it your all? At the end, results matter, but oftentimes they matter only as much as the process, the effort, and the engagement.

shutterstock_168936113It’s simple. If you work your hardest and you make a mistake, you will eventually fix it and improve it. Why? Because you held yourself accountable for it, you owned your actions and you learned from them. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, then you will never learn from your mistakes. You will say they weren’t yours, right? It was someone else’s decision, or the wrong process, or some other department’s fault. You will never learn from them and you will eventually repeat them.

Accountability in Failure and Success, in top and bottom

What if you are successful in your work? Is that a time to be held accountable by yourself and others? Yes, you need to own your actions in order to learn what you did right and how to keep doing it, because if you don’t, you will eventually fail and make a mistake.

Accountability is about fairness, and when a company is growing and hits a certain size, it becomes hard for upper-management to get a full picture of what’s going on across all ranks, and in all sides of the business. That’s why it’s important to create systems that bring transparency, individual contribution, productivity, and collaboration to the process.

Some people may think this system is policing their activity, but the truth is that these systems are created to shed light on every corner, so there as much transparency as possible – at all levels. 

Accountability can only be truly implemented in a transparent environment where everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and also what the expected consequences are for their mistakes and their successes.

grpx_1552From my personal experience, effective companies are not governed by executives. They are governed by principles, values, and rules that are efficiently implemented and based on a particular culture or mindset. Those values are then materialized in processes, policies, and protocols that provide a level playing field where success can thrive, as it is motivated by tangible rewards. At CopyPress, we just finished implementing the first part of those systems.

Looking Forward to 2014

After a very intense 2013, CopyPress is facing its next stage of growth, and now that we have the means, we want to make sure that the people who are on the bus are the people who will want to stay on the bus and perform accordingly.

For those who haven’t been use to a strong culture of accountability, we are giving them the simple option: either step up or step off. At this stage, we have no more room for any half measures. When it comes to performance, effort, and engagement, we all have to be on the same level: our best.

CopyPress is rapidly evolving. Looking back, it is amazing to see how much the company has grown in a relatively short period of time. Looking at the future, we can only imagine all the things that we will achieve, but to do so we need to continue giving our all, every day.

About the author

Ignacio Lucea