Accountable Management System

The Accountable Management System (AMS) is a comprehensive and integrated set of principles and procedures that enables organizations and the people who work in them to be fully effective. The use of these common sense ideas results in an organization that is a good place for people to work and one that substantially increases its productivity and its profit.

The Accountable Management System enables an organization to:
  • Structure appropriately to achieve its mission, goals and objectives
  • Staff with employees fully capable of doing the work in their roles
  • Establish accountable management practices

Organizational Structure

The structure of an organization is provided by the roles that are established and the relationship of the roles to each other. An organization that uses Accountable Management principles can determine and establish the correct number of managerial levels, and place roles at the right level for the complexity of the work that needs to get done.

The relationships between roles is clearly spelled out both for the vertical relationship between manager and subordinate and for the lateral role relationships so essential for working across functions and business units. Roles and role relationships that are clearly defined and understood provide the foundation for an effective organization.

When roles and their relationship to each other are confusing there is uncertainty, conflict and wasted effort. Role clarity coupled with clear accountability builds personal confidence and generates trust between individuals and between individuals and the organization.

Staffing the Organization

Work and tasks given to different roles vary in complexity, and the ability of each individual to do work and tasks differs as well. Therefore, one of the challenges in building and maintaining an effective organization is to select the right person for each role.

The AMS provides procedures for selecting a person capable of handling the complexity of the work in the role and for ensuring that each employee has a manager who can work at one level of complexity higher. This provides everyone with a manager who can add value to, and set context for, the work to be done.

Accountable Management Practices

There are explicitly defined practices in the AMS that enable work to get done effectively including performance management, three-level management, cross-functional working relationships and talent pool development.

Performance Management

The AMS performance management process includes managerial planning, context setting, task assignment, feedback, coaching, appraisal and continual improvement.

Three-Level Management

The establishment of a working relationship between each manager and his/her subordinates and the manager's manager enables more effective communication and provides each employee with someone to assist him or her in consideration of long-range career opportunities.

Cross-Functional Working Relationships

People who must interact with each other but who are subordinates of different managers are frequently very unclear about what accountability and authority they have with regard to each other. In the AMS all the necessary work processes and work systems are integrated through the use of clearly-defined working relationships. What has previously appeared to be a clash of personalities disappears when working relationships are clearly specified between roles in different functions.

Talent Pool Development

In the AMS, provision is made to regularly review the entire pool of talent in the organization to ensure that each employee is fairly considered for developmental and promotional opportunities and that employees are available with the necessary capability and knowledge to meet current and anticipated staffing needs.

Managerial Accountability

Managers are held accountable for the output of their subordinates. This idea is central to the AMS. It is the manager who decides what each subordinate is to do and with what resources they are to be provided. It is also the manager who revises plans and priorities if a task cannot be completed as originally specified.

All managers must exercise leadership. Managers are accountable for:
  • Maintaining a team of qualified and capable subordinates
  • Leading subordinates to agreed-upon goals
  • The results of their subordinates' work
  • Their own personal effectiveness

Managers do not delegate all of their work. They do some of their work themselves, they get assistance with their own work from subordinates, and they delegate some of their work.

Managers are accountable to coach each of their subordinates regularly to help them increase their knowledge, skills and experience so they can effectively carry out all of the requirements of their individual role.

Managerial Authority

In order for managers to be held accountable by their manager for the work of subordinates, they must have certain authority with regard to their subordinates. They must have the authority to decide how they will get the work of their unit done and to judge how effective any given subordinate is in doing his or her work. Managers also need to be able to veto the selection of someone to be their subordinate, as well as to be able to initiate the removal of a subordinate from a role if they do not believe the individual is capable of doing the work.

Subordinate Accountability and Authority

Subordinates are accountable for working to achieve the tasks they are assigned. They are accountable and have the authority to discuss task assignment with their manager and review any problems they anticipate or that may develop. They are also accountable for providing their manager with ideas as to how processes might be improved.

When a task is in progress, a subordinate is accountable to inform his or her manager if what has been assigned cannot be completed as specified, in time for the manager to take adaptive action. This might, for example, happen because circumstances have changed or certain aspects of the task were not fully understood or anticipated initially.

When a task needs to be modified, the subordinate is expected to make useful suggestions as to what can be done about the situation. It is the manager, however, who adjusts the task, its priority and the resources available. Working in this way assures that there are no surprises and that everything is done on time as assigned.

The manager-subordinate relationship is a two-way working relationship between adults where the best ideas of each are applied, recognizing that the manager has a broader perspective and the final say if there is not complete agreement

Project Teams

Project teams are an essential component of organizational success. In order to be fully effective, each team must have a manager who is accountable for the work of the team. The manager may or may not choose to appoint someone else as team leader to direct the work of the team. Team members are accountable as individuals for their work as contributing participants.

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