A bump, wall, roadblock, stall, ceiling or plateau; sooner or later everyone hits it. The process I will describe in this post lays out a path to overcome the inertia that paralyzes us when we are not sure where to go or what to do. It causes us to re-imagine the future and get on with taking it to the next level.

I have a deep interest in the connection between accountability and finding “the better way” forward. As a journalist, I was often involved in stories that were ultimately tied to holding individuals or institutions to account. As a father and husband who owned a business I was not only accountable to my clients but also to my family for their well-being. Failure on either front was not an option so part of my journey through life has always involved re-imagining my future then re-inventing it.

Since the death of my 19-year-old son Sean in a warehouse explosion, a significant amount of my time has been focused on safer and healthier workplaces. The rest of it has been devoted to running businesses I have owned or been part of and helping others to make their own businesses more successful too.

No matter the circumstance, my particular skills are tied to engaging others to understand and then participate in the next step forward toward successful outcomes, whatever that might be. The tools I have utilized in this area have largely been centered around implementing strategy, accelerating growth, stakeholder engagement and helping to manage stressful or even crisis situations.

In both my own businesses and those of my clients, no matter what the size or complexity of the organization, there are clear, recurring patterns, not only relevant for private sector organizations trying to get to the next level of growth or profit, but also for those who aspire to create safer workplace cultures. In every instance, at one point or another and over and over again after that, we need to accelerate in order to elevate.

To expect things to change by doing what you have always done is not a reasonable idea. So something must change. Here are some of the accelerators that are absolutely necessary to elevate to the next level:

  1. The future, near and far, must be re-imagined, visualized and verbalized.
  2. Everyone in the organization must be brought to and put on the same page, repeatedly.
  3. Strategy, tactics and actions to get there must be defined, prioritized and time-lined.
  4. Accountability for each outcome is assigned to the one person in charge of the function required to implement it (e.g. HR, Marketing & Sales, Finance etc).
  5. Capable people who get what you want and want to go get it must be placed in the right jobs with the appropriate resources.
  6. Changes of functions or people are thoughtfully considered then implemented without delay.
  7. Progress against plan and issues resolution must be held on fixed, pre-determined dates with set time limits and a circulated agenda. What gets measured improves.

These were steps initiated by the most successful leaders of the client organizations I mentioned earlier. They are also the steps I either took in my own businesses or learned about the hard way when I didn’t follow them. At the same time, it is also a framework for an executive leader as well the owner of the HR/OHS function to pursue continuous improvement in workplace health and safety.

What of the people who are employed in such a change-friendly environment? It takes some hard work along the way to get people there the first time out. There may even be some trepidation around the accountability word from those whose past efforts have been appreciated but whose results not specifically tracked. But with accountability and the measurement built on priority results come less subjectivity and more transparency.

In environments where clarity, openness and a focus on outcomes and not just being busy are the rule not the exception, there is a far greater likelihood that employees will be able to say:

I am:

  • Valued
  • Respected
  • Secure
  • Engaged
  • Healthy and well
  • Accountable
  • Successful

Finally, adopting the state of mind that leads you to accelerate your actions to elevate your business in a focused, time-sensitive manner is more than an approach to a problematic situation. It is a prescription for tackling culture change through a step-by-step process. When integrated as an ongoing method of re-evaluating and re-inventing the organization year over year, it is a built-in and far easier pattern to sustain.

These are the same skill sets and tools I have brought to bear on my efforts to help create safer, healthier more respectful workplaces.

Paul Kells

Business Accelerator, Culture Change Expert, Respect and Safety Specialist, Professional Speaker

“Reach new standards for safe and positive workplace cultures”