The Accountability/Alignment Process: Three Steps to an Accountable Organization

The Accountability/Alignment Process: Three Steps to an Accountable Organization

Generating genuine accountability and functional alignment into your workplace cannot be left to vague ambitions and abstract statements. Well designed processes must be embedded into the heart of an organization to ensure that each employee’s goals and expectations are clearly defined and that the resources to bring about specific measurable results are in place.

In our recent book, Aligned Like a Laser, we outline an effective three step process for ensuring managers and employees are mutually accountable and that the entire organization is aligned toward specific goals.

The Accountability/Alignment process has three fundamental steps:

(1) Accountability
(2) Alignment
(3) and Achievement

These steps shape the essential foundation for the practice of accountability and workplace alignment.


Step 1: Accountability

Accountability is articulated through a document called an Accountability Agreement. This document forms a context for success by making each individual’s contribution visible within the organization. It is a brief – 2 to 3 page – overview of the outcomes that an individual is promising to deliver which also outlines the support and resources that he or she needs from others in order to achieve these results.

Seven Elements of an Accountability Agreement:

(1) Business Focus Statement

(2) Operational Accountabilities

(3) Leadership Accountabilities

(4) Support Requirements

(5) Goals

(6) Sustainment Plan

(7) Positive Consequences


Step 2: Alignment

Alignment requires a constructive business dialogue focused on end results. After completing Accountability Agreements, a workgroup negotiates responsibilities and forms an understanding of each member’s contribution to the team.

The alignment process involves resolving gaps and overlaps in the team’s accountabilities, and it ensures that each member agrees to provide the critical support needed to fulfil the team’s purpose.

Alignment clarifies the practice of accountability; it focuses energy and eliminates distractions across the entire organization. It also provides a renewed sense of confidence and interdependence based on a publicly declared promise to deliver business results.


Step 3: Achievement

The Accountability/Alignment process brings immediate results, but lasting achievement is gained through maintaining the discipline fostered by the process.
There are several ways to ensure that Accountability/Alignment brings long term achievement.

Keep Accountability Agreements Visible

Post progress reports in prominent locations.
Provide a forum for people to comment on progress.

Put Accountability Agreements Online

A company’s intranet can provide easy access to all Accountability Agreements.
Or, use our Align Online tool. Visit for more information.

Model Accountability

Leaders must set an example and share Accountability Agreements widely.
Also, references should be made to Accountability Agreements in reports and presentations.

Synchronize the Process

Link accountability to related processes such as goal setting and performance management.
Use accountability to prevent duplication of effort.

Ensure Business Results

Accountability is not about shifting blame; it embraces a process of mutual support and learning to ensure that goals are achieved.
Accountability Agreements can be modified according to past lessons and to better adhere to new circumstances.


The Accountable Workplace

The alignment process legitimizes raising difficult conversations, creates a positive context for resolving disagreements, and builds an environment of mutual support. Improving an organization can be a gamble, yet successful organizational effectiveness initiatives have proven to be invaluable relative to the time invested. The Accountability/Alignment process can revitalize a workplace, focus attention on shared goals, and sustain a new way of working across an organization.


Unconventional Strategy Earns High Returns For Self-Directed IRA Holders

Even though we’ve done well with our investments, my wife has never been a big fan of stocks or the stock market. Maybe it’s because she spent three years on Wall Street right after graduation from college and has seen what goes on in the large brokerage houses. She has explained some of the shady practices and dealings she witnessed to me and has often said that most people would have a better chance in a casino than in the market. In light of these beliefs, she has maintained a self-directed IRA and placed her money into investments other than stocks. And, she’s done well with them.

I, on the other hand, have a bit higher tolerance for risk and have kept my money in a traditional IRA and let my stock broker manage the fund for me. And I’ve done just about as well as my wife – at least until recently. Of course, with the market hitting the skids so badly lately, I’ve gone completely to cash hoping to ride the storm out.

I’m happy to say that I have a wonderful relationship with my wife. That’s why I didn’t mind going to her for advice on what to do with my IRA earning 1.5 percent in a money market fund. She was ecstatic. It turns out that she recently discovered a great program that was yielding double digit returns. Of course, now she had my attention. She pointed me to her new custodian for her self-directed IRA. In case you’re new to IRAs, a self-directed account is one where the account holder makes his or her own decisions as to how the money will be invested. I asked her how she was getting those double digit returns. Her answer made me just a little uneasy. She said she’d been investing in real estate.

I’m not a reactionary guy. And, I was holding her latest account statement with the proof right in front of me. She’d been kicking butt. So I asked what she’d been doing. She was more than pleased to explain. It seems she’d just sort of stumbled upon a great opportunity. She’d discovered a unique program where she could help not only herself, but re-emerging communities as well as working folks living in those communities.

She explained that with the housing market so depressed there were an abundance of residential properties that could be bought at deeply-discounted prices. Many of these properties needed work so that also helped people within the communities with jobs and increased commerce. But that was just the beginning. Once the homes had been purchased and repaired there were plenty of qualified buyers waiting to occupy them. I commented that it sounded a lot like urban redevelopment. She agreed but said that the program she was involved with was almost exclusively funded with private funds rather than taxpayer money.

She reminded me of how powerful a strategy it was to have an IRA in the first place because any gains accumulate in the account with taxes being deferred until the account holder actually began to withdraw the money. Of course, not having to pay taxes on the account every year allows you to accumulate wealth at a much faster rate. I’ve understood these principles for a long time. The reason she brought it up was because those were the standard benefits of an IRA. But added to those advantages was the sagging real estate market where great bargains were plentiful. These circumstances made for a near-perfect investment program. And by the looks of her account, it was a very exciting thing. But she wasn’t finished.

She explained how neat it was to be part of an effort that was doing so much good. Communities were getting cleaned up. People were returning to productivity and folks were able to realize the American Dream of home ownership at very affordable prices. She also mentioned that as these properties were rehabbed, they were bringing in tax revenue for the community, and almost as an afterthought, investors like her were earning very nice returns with minimal risk. The program almost sounded too good to be true, but her account statement was sitting right in front of me with the proof in black and white.

I’ve made the first step towards participating in the program and I’ve got to say, I’m excited. And there’s a hidden benefit included here for me. I get to hang out with the woman I love a lot more as we discuss the deals we’ve got going. Excellent!

Why Insurance Direct Mail Results Totally Demolish Telemarketing Efforts

Once you become an insurance trainee, you may have an insurance company office trying to direct your future. Both you and the longtime insurance professional have one major thing in common. Both of you are in business for yourself. Neither of you are NOT reimbursed for gasoline, your time, or for costs in obtaining people interested in finding out more about the insurance product you are offering.

Spend your gas, time, and costs for obtaining true prospects resulting in sales that will overcome all these costs. Plus your sale must provide a profit contributing to your survival and growth.

A telemarketing firm person does not personally care if you make a profit. They are paid to make calls and convince people to make an appointment. How long do you tolerate staying on the line when a telemarketer calls you? It averages 8 or more minutes to talk to a person. A full eight hours of dialing for dollars would mean around 56 attempts to convince people. They are under high pressure to make appointments. Get a person to say yes after 6 or 7 no’s and objections does not sound like a very strong appointment.

You are not at the telemarketing call session. Are they calling prospects REALLY interested in buying? Some of these appointments could be with people with only a tiny interest, or too weak to stand firm and say no. Should your appointment sales ratio be 25% you might me covering gas and valuable time. How much is left over to accumulate for your income?

For most agents, telemarketing, or making their own phone calls works out to be little more than minimum wage. Good old call calling is just old, not good. A telemarketing firm might charge you $12.50 hourly, or $500 for 40 hours. Just how much are you going to make? If it were so terrific every professional agent would use telemarketing. Very few do.

Insurance direct mail marketing however puts you in full command. You choose the profile of your prospect, unlike the telemarketing firm. If you want couples between the age of 27 and 31, owning their house, with children, making an income of $50,000 plus, and engaged in a certain occupation, you got it. That is exactly who will be receiving your sales piece. Does a telemarketing do calling only on possible prospects like this?

A SECRET: Telemarketing firms and charities often use a “sucker list”. This list might be a “hot list” of people who twice bought items from television ads. Or it could be a list of people that have given yes answers to appointments with other types of salespeople more than once.

Your insurance direct mail marketing is reliable. After a few attempts you know how much each appointment is going to cost you. Let’s say a telemarketing and insurance mail appointment costs the same. Or even give an unnecessary 50% edge in appointment costs to the telemarketing firm. Direct mail is still the clear winner.

You still financially come out ahead with your insurance direct mail program. These people who reply, without any pressure, want more details. As an insurance trainee you should close 50% of prospects truly interested in taking their time to find out if you can fill their needs. Insurance professionals often have closing ratios exceeding 75% or more.


That is the question you should ask yourself. It is the same question your prospects want answered.

Double your sales closing ratio, and you more than double your sales totals.. Interested prospects will always tend to spend more money to have their needs solved, or be receptive to a multiple sale. Push a prospect, and you are lucky to make a minimum sale. Your gas costs are not spent on wild goose chases. And what about your very valuable asset of time? More time, means more sales appointments leading to sales.

Find a list that matches your ideal clients, and read articles on how to write an effective sales piece sent out by direct mail with bulk rate postage. Get the best possible return on your investment.

Earn a respectable business person’s income and put yourself in full charge of your future. The opportunity is there.

Help Yourself While Helping Others With Unique Self-Directed IRA Real Estate Investments

I attended a real estate seminar years ago. The instructor was a brilliant man. He pointed out that with real estate virtually any individual could receive phenomenal rates of return. As part of his presentation he compared real estate to other investments. He was especially fond of drawing parallels between real estate and the stock market.

First he said that he didn’t have anything against the stock market – that is, if you were happy with a return of around 10 to 12 percent a year. Of course, he showed the class many examples where real estate investors were making as much as 50 percent returns per year and more on carefully chosen properties.

Another one of the differences between real estate and stocks was that people controlled their own destiny with real estate while with stocks they had to depend upon the skills and savvy of a CEO and board of directors. I distinctly remember how I appreciated the autonomy involved with real estate investing. I liked the idea of directing my own investments.

Well, never before in my lifetime have I seen the above-mentioned philosophy hold so true as it does today. By the looks of things in the stock market the folks steering publicly-traded companies have made a mess of things. It seems that every day the stock market continues to decline while more and more capital simply evaporates into thin air. Where it will stop, nobody knows.

And in fairness, I guess one could say the same thing about real estate. On the heels of the sub-prime mortgage crisis property values around the country are falling fast. But here’s a little secret: there is still tons of money to be made with real estate. The only thing you’ll need to understand is that there are proven methods that will work in this type of market – all you need to do is become acquainted with them. And again, real estate is still an investment where the individual owner has complete control.

Understanding that, an adjustment to traditional real estate investing strategies itself is powerful enough. But couple that with another technique that might be considered unconventional and you’ve got a real winner.

The unconventional strategy is to buy and sell real estate in your IRA. Yes, you can do this. What you first need to do is convert your retirement account or accounts to self-directed IRAs. A self-directed IRA, or individual retirement account, is one that you, rather than a banker of broker control exclusively. Before we get further into that, let’s first take a look at the main advantages of IRAs.

Gains realized in an IRA are tax deferred until the time an individual retires and begins to receive distributions (payments) from the account. At that time the distributions are taxed as regular income.
With the tax deferred status of IRAs your money is able to compound quicker. This is because the principle balance stays intact as you have no need to withdraw funds to pay taxes.
These are the main benefits of an IRA. By themselves they’d be great. But couple these two advantages with opportunities to pick up phenomenal bargains in many of our country’s real estate markets and you’ve got a formula for some very nice returns.

That alone would be enough to motivate many folks to at least investigate the possibilities in real estate. But it gets better. There is a unique program available where everyone involved in such a transaction is far better off than before. The investor benefits by the current low prices of property and significant resale returns. And here’s an additional bonus: in many cases there are qualified buyers waiting for the house.

The community is better off because an empty and potentially problematic house is now occupied. The municipality is better off because there is now a family living in the home and paying property taxes. The family is better off because they’ve gotten into their first home or have upgraded to a more desirable one. Oh, there’s another great feature that comes as a byproduct of this plan. The program is carried out almost exclusively with private, rather than taxpayer’s money. The entire program is a winner for all. Pretty neat, huh?