Accountability: “Evaluate to improve, not to prove.”

Norb Schwarz

A young next generation executive working for the family business her father founded recently told me that lack of accountability among family members in the business was hampering the successful transition of the company to the next generation.

Unfortunately her comments mirrored those of other clients who have had difficult transitions due to apparent lack of accountability. Why is accountability such an elusive issue in many family businesses?

Perhaps it is because accountability is thought to be synonymous with “consequences” and thought of as punishment for failing to accomplish a task.  Yet, if we looked at accountability with a different lens, perhaps some of the barriers to its acceptance might be torn down.

Rather than looking at it as a way to impose consequences or punishment for failure, we should be welcoming accountability as a process that offers an opportunity to learn and improve on results that are both positive and/or miss the mark. Clear communication of agreed upon goals and measureable benchmarks to achieving the goals are prerequisites for the successful integration of accountability into a positive culture for the family business. With this positive process in place it will be much easier to establish a meritocracy based on accountability as opposed to an aristocracy.

“Evaluate to improve, not to prove.”


One thought on “Accountability: “Evaluate to improve, not to prove.””

  1. Thanks for your advocacy to accountability!
    In my experience with next generation family business members, lack of accountability is actually felt like being lost. They don’t know where are they going, if they are doing well or not, they are lost, there is no direction. Of course, it is quite difficult to improve at something if you don’t know what is that that you should be improving!
    In the case of Next gen working for founders, this is sadly very common. Entrepreneurs are doers that don’t waste time in implementing process and actually don’t care that much about career development. Most of the time they rather have yes men working for them, so there is not much room for discussion. So, in my humble opinion, the nextgens should be the ones to promote the establishment of accountability process for themselves and make sure that they keep improving. They are the ones that have to lose the most if that does not happens!

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