Skip to Main Content

Accountability begins where the blame game ends

It doesn’t take more than a scan through the news or your social media feed to see examples of people, at many levels, failing to hold themselves accountable — for themselves, their actions, results, words or teams. But there isn’t a dearth of blame.

When we mess up — particularly when we get caught — things get stressful. We may question our job security or relationships, people’s opinions of us or even our outlook on ourselves. It can be painful. Blame puts space between us and that discomfort of not knowing what comes next. It attempts to assign pain to someone else while you walk away. And it rarely succeeds at leaving you unscathed.

Blame has an inverse relationship to accountability. When we hold ourselves accountable (even if it’s not our “fault”, per se), we stop to look at a situation and talk through what happened, why. Taking ownership of a situation or outcome puts us into listening mode, primes us to think about solutions. Blame simply spews our fears that we might need to a pay a dear price — and shows we’d really prefer if someone else would pay it for us. It never solves the problem.

Accountability is a team sport.

When we’re looking for talent, especially senior-level tech talent, we’re looking for someone who practices accountability, and expects it. Cultivating a culture of accountability doesn’t simply start at the top with a companywide memo.

It’s practiced every day, at every level, in every scenario.

On a personal level, accountability isn’t a thing you did that one time. It’s an essential part of your character. It’s taking ownership of decisions you make and being the leader (no matter your title) who’s ready to accept responsibility — for better or worse — of how well a hire fits, a deliverable performs or a conversation goes. And the best thing about it is that if you understand the value of that ownership, you’ll feel compelled to hold people on your team or in your circle accountable, too.

That’s not the blame game calling, looking for someone to play (see paragraph two). When we develop a mutual sense of accountability and expectations, we’re actively saying, “we’re on the same team.” It’s an understanding that you’re all working toward the same goals, and if something goes wayward, we’re going to take ownership of how this team will get things back on course.

Fuel your boldest moves.

It’s that type of accountability and ownership you’ll see demonstrated in the leadership we admire, study and aspire to. You won’t catch accomplished business leaders, innovators and visionaries without it. It empowers them to make bolder moves.

Uncertainty and fear keep many of us from following our guts sometimes or taking calculated risks. What that means, oftentimes, is that we’re uncertain we’ll want to own the outcome.

A strong sense of accountability wipes out that uncertainty. You know you’re going to own the outcome — and be ready to start thinking about solutions if things go awry. Especially when it comes to hiring.

Hiring in today’s market requires bold moves. The old-school hiring approach (i.e., post an opportunity, wait for applications, pick the best one) isn’t effective anymore, especially in a hot market where deadlines and bottom-lines count more than ever. To compete in today’s war for talent, we often tell clients to embrace advice from Steve Jobs:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

In other words, trust your gut. Many times, we feel a burning sense of what we need to do, who’s the right hire for this project or team. But we override that gut instinct with bullets on a resume or someone else’s feedback. That’s your critter brain talking (the part of your brain that focuses on comfort and survival), looking for a way to maintain the status quo.

It will never roll out the red carpet for you to make bold moves — and it will always look for someone to blame. Your critter brain is essentially Cretaceous-period software operating in a 21st-century world. Your instincts, however, are consistently getting software upgrades that help you evolve and make bold moves to thrive in whatever the market brings.

Own your understanding of the market (not changing it).

Hiring is a business decision. Like any bold business decision, hiring can change the trajectory of your company, and it requires experience, instinct and accountability.

Chief to that hiring equation is understanding and keeping up with the job market, namely these five points:

1. There are more jobs, especially in tech, than people right now. Demand fiercely outnumbers supply — and there isn’t an end in sight at this time.

2. Quality senior tech talent is rare. They hold their cards close, are sought after by everyone you’re competing with and have plenty of options.

3. Your window of opportunity to attract quality talent is smaller than ever. The average tech job-seeker is available for 72 hours before multiple offers come their way.

4. Neither politics nor policies will solve your talent problems. So, don’t wait for it to fix things. (See previous point about 72-hour window.)

5. You have the power to solve your talent problems and land quality tech talent in that narrow window.

That’s the market we’re working with. No fighting it. But you can win the battle. Let’s talk about how.

Put solutions before control.

You don’t need to control job-market conditions to find the tech talent you need and hire them. Lucky thing, because you can’t. You can’t control how many people choose to study computer science or how many qualified people choose to retire. You cannot control the magnitude of your hiring competition. You can’t even control the going rates or salaries in a talent-driven marketplace.

But you can control how you react to it — and be accountable for the outcome. That starts with preparation.

Whether your organization needs to fill one technology role or 1,000, hold yourself accountable for knowing exactly what your business needs, talent wise, before your hiring efforts begin.

Here are a few questions to ask as you approach a recruitment push:

  • What’s the scope of the work that needs to be done? Start at the end and work backwards. When does the project need to be done? How many hours will it take to complete properly? How many resources (in terms of working hours) are you lacking to complete it?
  • Have you created a timeline based on the workload? For example: I have 3,000 hours of work that needs to happen in a seven-month window. Those 3,000 hours require three resources working full time for six months. In this scenario, the company has one month to find three required resources and bring them up to speed before the clock starts ticking. Set your hiring timeline based on the workload and stick to it.
  • What’s your budget? It makes no sense to go shopping without having your funds in place. Remember that 72-hour window? No budget could trip you up before landing the talent you need.
  • Have you identified expert specialists? If your open positions require specialized, hard-to-find skills, consider your routes into the right networks. If your HR team doesn’t already have available ASIC verification experts in their talent pool, and you need one (stat!), call in the experts. Staying connected with tech recruitment partners can ensure you have the tech talent you need, when you need it.

Answering these questions before you hit the job boards or call a recruiter will set you up for success — in hiring and productivity. Having the full scope of your projects, budget, specializations and business needs, in hand, gives you a sound foundation for making bold decisions.

Accountability loves company.

Get started in any coaching or goal-oriented program, and you’ll find that partnerships are essential to accountability. It’s not simply having a person to tell you did or didn’t keep a promise or make progress on a goal; accountability partners are there to hold you to your goals and support you to get there.

When you think of your hiring goals, what does support look like to you? If you’re held accountable for your hiring moves and the bold future of your company, get honest about whom or what you need to get there. Then seek out a bold partner. In fact, you can start your search for that partner here.