Account…defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a report or description of an event or experience.” Accounting, my profession, is defined as “the skill, system, or job of keeping the financial records of a business or person.” Holding one accountable. What does that really mean? The definition of accountable as “required to explain actions or decisions to someone; required to be responsible for something.” All of us are accountable for something. There is accountability in all aspects of our lives: personal, professional, community, and others. This week FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, I am going to focus on accountability in our culture.

Our family recently put in place a chore chart for our two elementary aged boys. This came as a recommendation from different sources to help us, as parents, communicate clear expectations to our children. As part of this chore chart we have “required” chores and chores for which they may be paid. Our children have been asking for ways to earn money for months now. Finally, I gave them this opportunity with the stipulation that all their “required” chores must be done before the paid ones. My older melodramatic son last night proclaims, “ever since you made that chore chart my life has gone downhill!” It has been 6 days. Our expectations have now been communicated and with the assistance of a visual and kinesthetic chart – the children are able to see and physically check off duties. This is our tool to hold our children accountable.

At work, are you ever the person waiting for information to come from another department or individual? Does your blood start to boil as you listen to that department or person have idle chit chat while you are trying to continue your project? It’s difficult holding co-workers responsible without feeling like you are nagging. As a manager I learned during meetings to provide assignments and have the next meeting set to check in on progress. Prior to the meeting, an agenda is sent out covering all the assignment that were given. This is a low pressure way to hold a team accountable for progression through a project. If the expectations were not clear or misunderstood, this becomes evident at the next meeting allowing time for course correction. Of course on tight deadlines this same idea could be modified with a shared virtual workspace or chat area to ask questions.

In the news, how many days do we go without hearing about political issues? It is election season – so zero days, you are lucky if you can bury yourself enough to go an hour without hearing about some political topic or rhetoric. The government was set up with three branches of government: legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch. These three were to act as checks and balance for the segregation of duties amongst our leaders. No one person has the authority of all three branches. There has been growing concern that we…the people…do not feel our elected officials are accountable for their actions. Yet, no one is proposing an answer for this lack of, or perceived lack of accountability. Can we make a chore chart for our officials? That would be nice. Check off the duties as you go along. Probably not feasible. Can we give them assignments and have follow up meetings? That would be ideal, but there are a lot of “us” and differing opinions on what the “assignment” is – so those follow-up meetings to clarify duties – may only cause further confusion or even conflict.

The trend I have described here is interesting. In a small group, like a family unit, accountability is relatively easy. Your expectations can be communicated in a variety of ways to hold others accountable. In a work environment, it gets a bit harder as the projects get larger in scope and more people have their hands in the pot. Finally at a high level, such as government, tracking accountability is extremely difficult with different groups having varying agendas for their elected officials. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for keeping our government accountable. However, it is our responsibility as citizens to stay current with what is going on in our government – and voting for our elected officials is our small voice in the thunderous noise of government…However if we all were silenced…whose voice will be heard? Only the government? There will be no accountability at all. Register to Vote…and Vote.