Expectations and accountability

Accountability is a word that’s used a lot in the world of health care.  Patient’s need to be accountable for their own health, staff need to be accountable to their work assignments, providers need to be accountable to federal guidelines and so on and so forth.

The thing about accountability when it comes to people is that too often the need to hold people accountable is based on faulty assumptions.  When the focus becomes how to hold people accountable it takes the focus off the most important question: Why do we need to hold people accountable in the first place?  If you believe people need to be held accountable, what’s your underlying belief?  Is it that people can’t be trusted to do what you want?  Is it that people fail to follow through on what they commit to doing?

If you’re focus is on holding people accountable you must first ask yourself if you have proof that people will fail to miss deadlines, fail to achieve goals and slack off when you don’t have your eye on them.

I believe people inherently want to do a good job.  People want to contribute and they are willing to work hard and they feel good when they achieve agreed upon goals.  The strange thing about accountability is that it promotes the use of pressure to get people to do what they probably already want to do  – succeed.

If you’re the type of individual that feels the “need” to hold people accountable, think about this:  People live up (or down) to our expectations of them.  Imagine how things would be different if people lived up to our high expectations instead of us having to hover in order for them to achieve our lower ones.

Health care workers want to succeed, they understand that their achievements are measured in saved lives and better quality of life.  People will only be as great as the expectations we have of them.  High expectations are a much better motivator than accountability.

Help people understand goals and desired outcomes then provide them the tools to be successful.  Accountability will take care of itself.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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