Date: 04/08/2016 | By: Kevin Brent

How to clarify accountabilities in your business


Who’s accountable? Have you got the right people doing the right things in your business? In this blog Kevin takes a look at a couple of frameworks to help you work out where you have gaps in terms of the people you need and the performance you desire. If you are growing from small, it will help you to work out a plan to take you out of doing everything yourself!


You can listen to Kevin’s webinar on the topic by clicking

In previous blogs we’ve talked about the 4 pillars of scaling up/ growing your business as defined by Verne Harnish and the Gazelles– Strategy, people, execution and cash.

This blog is a focus on people – have we got the right people doing the right things in the right way?

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than the right idea” – Ed Catmul President of Pixar

We often find that business owners are frustrated that their employees don’t have the same proactive approach as themselves and don’t seem to take responsibility for helping to grow the business. 

To some extent understandable and never going to be the same. But a well-functioning team that understands and buys in to the vision and then understands their role in making that happen can go a long way to addressing this.

So what does a good team look like?


Google team research

  1. Psychological safety – how comfortable do you feel taking risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability – can you depend on your teammates and hold them accountable?
  3. Structure and accountability –are goals and roles clearly defined?
  4. Meaning of work – is each member working on something that is personally important to them?
  5. Impact of work – do you believe that the work you are doing matters?

Number 1 is most important – stems from trust – which can only come with time.  The focus of this blog is mainly around number 3 – accountability.

First a little story! – It’s not my job!



Each team must have someone that is accountable:

the difference between Accountability, Responsibility and Authority

Accountability This is about tracking progress – not about authority.  If more than one person is accountable, then no one is accountable

Responsibility – This is about proactively supporting the team so the ‘ability to respond’

Authority – Is about the final decision making power


Smart Function Accountability Framework


The first focuses on making sure you have the right people in the right seats at the top of the organisation

This is the ‘right people doing the right things’ bit

The framework lists the functions that exist in every business

Bearing in mind that most of us listening are small businesses – we still have to do all of these functions even if we are a one man band.  The difference is that we might be the one doing everything!

In scaling up the business, this can help us to work out which function to delegate next – so it can give us a roadmap for scaling our business.  Recently I was lucky enough to hear Ivan Misner speak about how he started BNI – which for those of you who don’t know is a global networking business.  He did a very similar exercise at the beginning and worked out what he wanted to delegate next and then what needed to be in place for each delegation.


Step 1

  1. Add any specific functions to the list of functions
  2. Fill in the first column with who is accountable (can be outsourced)
  3. If you do have a number of senior managers, then get them to do this individually and compare results!

Step 2

Ask yourself these questions for each function

  1. Do you have more than 1 person in a box?
  2. Is someone in too many boxes?
  3. Do you have any blanks?
  4. Would you ‘enthusiastically re-hire’?

Step 3

  1. List up to 3 ‘leading’ KPIs for each of the listed functions
  2. These are intended to be leading KPIs – measuring daily and weekly activities that should lead to the desired results

Step 4

  1. Review a recent P&L statement and identify the key lines
  2. Assign each line to a person
  3. Ask the same 4 questions – again don’t confuse accountability with authority
  • Do we have more than one person accountable for any item?
  • Is anyone in too many boxes/ lines?
  • Are there any missing lines?
  • Are we enthusiastic about the person?

So that takes care of functions and you can begin to see how this could help you keep on top of your business and make sure you have the right people doing the right things

But we do also need to consider processes – who is responsible for the four to nine key processes that drive your business?

For that we have a Process Accountability Framework


Identify the key 4-9 processes that drive your business e.g

  • Generating leads
  • Closing sales
  • Customer satisfaction

Assign accountability to a specific person – remember this is for measuring not necessarily authority

Identify a few KPIs to track each process – to measure speed, quality and cost

So hopefully you will find these frameworks useful.  Certainly if properly thought through and applied they can begin the process of ensuring everyone is clear on their roles and accountabilities  – thereby helping to make sure your business runs smoothly!

You can listen to Kevin’s webinar on the topic by clicking

BizSmart aims to help business owners of small and medium sized businesses to create value and scale their businesses through sound practical business support by providing- Insight, Clarity and business support with a real determination to help you succeed.  You can access blogs like this and more besides through our free SmartRoom service here