In Ottawa this week our Hockey team fired yet another coach, meaning our team is actually paying for 3 different coaches right now (the one we fired last year, the one we fired this year, and the current coach), which is not very good planning (paying 2 people NOT to do a job), however, the main statement is that the previous coaches did not hold the players accountable for their play (i.e. the players were allowed to do what the heck they wanted without concern of less playing time, or punishment for sloppy play in practice) and thus the players were “lazy”.
This got me thinking this accountability concept is vital in business and a few of the bigger problem areas of the economy there is a lack of accountability seen as well.
We are seeing the Canadian Bank CEO’s making an attempt to appear to be “tightening their belts” and “taking one for the team” by eschewing some bonus money. While my opinion is this isn’t enough, at least the optics of the acts show at least some penitence for their actions, and thus some perceived accountability.
There I don’t see as much. Nortel’s CEO has still not really shown any contrition or accoutability in his actions, which makes a lot of folk wonder does he feel accountable for the companies current situation? Employees who are about to get laid off with little or no severance are not as likely to “go to the wall” if they know their CEO is still raking in big money.
John Chambers from Cisco on the other hand for a while (and might still now, I can’t find any coroboration) took a salary of $1 per year (he got other compensation), but that alone has great optics for employees. Is he still very rich? My guess is it is not likely that he is trying to create extra income for his family by taking a part time job at Home Depot.
Accountability of the folks in power and of anyone you deal with directly (especially when it comes to your money) is a vital thing to look for.
If you have a financial advisor, how are they accountable to you? If they give you bad investment advice what happens? Ask that if you are talking to your advisor. If their answer is, “… well, I’ll try to do better next time”, you might want to think about not hiring them. How can you make this person accountable for their decisions with your money?
How do we make CEO’s of large firms accountable? Make sure if you are a stock holder you vote for your Board of Directors, since they are supposed to represent your best interests (whether they do or not, is another question). Go to the yearly stockholders meetings, ask questions and read the company prospectus (no matter how painful it might be).
You can’t hold someone accountable for anything, if you aren’t sure of what they are doing, and you can’t ask pointed questions about what is being done, if you don’t know, “what is being done”.
Make yourself accountable for your decisions, but also make the folks you deal with directly (and those that work for you) accountable for their actions and decisions, it will make the whole system work that much better.