Accountability: The Right Way
Article | Energy Insights
Zogby International conducted a nationwide poll (the largest representative study of its kind in the United States) that revealed a startling number of organizations and business leaders using accountability the wrong way. According to the poll, 25 percent of employed Americans describe their workplace as a “dictatorship,” and only 51 percent describe their co-workers as “motivated or mostly motivated at work.” In another recent survey conducted by Gallup, a majority of U.S. employees are identified as actively disengaged at work and half of those workers (one quarter of all employees) “would sack their managers if given the chance.” So, what’s the problem? Do workers care too little about their own and their company’s success? Or are managers failing to hold people accountable in a way that motivates them to get the results expected of them? In our view, the problem is primarily a matter of know-how and not a lack of motivation or a lack of willingness to take accountability.
Chevron Chairman and CEO Dave O’Reilly appears to be managing accountability for results the right way: “Around the globe, economies are searching for solid ground, and people are reevaluating their faith in institutions. Against these currents, The Chevron Way is our anchor. Through good times and bad, The Chevron Way principles guide what we do and how we do it. It’s about getting results the right way.” One indication of Chevron’s commitment to taking accountability for getting results the right way lies in its numerous partnerships with other businesses, community groups, government, and nongovernmental organizations designed to produce sustainable results. In the area of healthcare, Chevron was the first corporate champion of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—a public-private partnership created by the United Nations—and has provided millions of dollars and a 700 person health-care staff to supports six countries in their efforts to eradicate these diseases. In the area of finance and banking, Chevron and partners recently launched a microlending bank in Angola to spur entrepreneurship among low-income households. The bank has now expanded to three branches, with plans for 11 more, and serves more than 31,000 customers.
Inside Chevron, taking accountability for getting results the right way means striving for zero accidents. According to CEO O’Reilly, “We’re creating a behavior-based safety culture that’s crowned by this tenet: when a behavior looks unsafe, employees and contractors alike know they have stop-work authority.” Last year Chevron had it’s safest year in history and one of the best in the industry. Taking accountability for getting results the right way also means responding to challenges such as natural disasters, economic and social instability, and global climate change. For the past seven years, Chevron’s Action Plan on Climate Change has focused on reducing emissions, improving efficiency, investing in research, pursuing innovative business opportunities, and promoting flexible and economically sound policies that protect the environment. Four years in a row, Chevron has met its annual greenhouse gas emissions goals and last year was ranked #1 among U.S.-based oil and gas companies, and #2 worldwide, on the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index. This year, Chevron celebrates 130 years of operation, and continues to renew its commitment to taking accountability for getting results the right way.
Managing accountability for results is not about punishment or revenge, because someone failed to meet your expectations or deliver the desired results. First, it’s about looking at your own circumstances, good or bad, challenging or straightforward, and taking the view that only you are responsible for what you do next and that blaming anyone or anything else for what happens will simply waste time and energy. Second, once you can commit to and personally manifest this sort of accountability, you will be able to help the people around you to do the same. Accountability, in its most basic and authentic form, is a personal “attribute” that manifests who you are. It’s “a way of being” that empowers you, each individual on your team, and every single person in your organization, to meet and even surpass your highest expectations—to get results the right way. Accountable organizations are built one person at a time.