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What is Control and Accountability?

In your business, would you have problems answering any of these questions:

  • who should do what?
  • when should it be done?
  • when was it actually done?
  • how was it done?
  • who did it?

If so, you need control and accountability. But just what are these and do you avoid getting confused with bureaucracy?

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What is Control?

Here is my definition of control.

It’s a means of ensuring that what your business delivers to its customers is totally compatible with what was promised in terms of suitability, quality, ethos, and timeliness.

This is the control over the delivery of your promise to the world. It’s the backbone of your business

What is accountability?

My definition is that it is a means of identifying and defining the person or people within the business who are responsible for carrying out one or more specific tasks in a manner that’s totally compatible with what the business promised in terms of suitability, quality, ethos, ethics, and timeliness, and again, accountability for the delivery of your promise to the world.

Who has control in your business?

Well, that depends on your company culture. It could be that the boss is totally in control, and just autocratically tell the workers what to do, or it could be that the workers are in control and they tell the boss what to do.

Who has contain your business - boss or worker?
Hopefully, that isn’t the way you are, because control should be two-way.


It should be top-down and bottom-up. Everybody in the business, at the bottom, at whatever level they are should have control over what they’re doing every day in terms of quality and delivering against promise.
Top down and bottom up control.

From the top-down, the ‘bosses’ need to have control over what is being done and being able to measure it and make sure that it conforms to the promise.

Accountability is the same way. It should be top-down and bottom-up.

Accountability - top down or bottom up?Every individual is totally accountable for the quality of what they do, and the people who oversee them are accountable for ensuring that the people who are doing the job are doing it correctly and have the means of doing it correctly.

Key Performance Indicators

The main question now is how do you gain this control and accountability? Well, Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are a very powerful means of giving this control and accountability to the business at all levels.

Let’s look at what Key Performance Indicators are. Well, they are a measure, but they must be meaningful, intuitive, easy to record, and in fact, the information to show them should be recorded as an integrated part of doing the job itself.

Let’s look at example KPIs for a sales rep.

These are the monthly figures from our sales rep:

  • the number of leads, 750
  • the number of sales from those leads, 100
  • the value sales from the 100 leads, $600,000.

Is this good or bad? Well, the fact is we don’t know because we would need to compare them to what they ought to have been.

This is where we can bring in KPIs and compare forecast against actual.

KPIs compare forecast against actual

Now, we have forecast leads of 800, and the actual number of leads is on 750, so there are 50 missing. Number of sales was forecast to be 160, only 100 were achieved. The value of sales is forecast to be $800,000, and only $600,000 were achieved.

Being able to compare actuals to forecast suggest that this sales rep might be underperforming, but is that the case? It could be when we look at these, and this is where the sales rep and the sales manager get the chance to talk to each other that the forecasts were unrealistic, were unattainable.

If the forecast were realistic and the sales rep didn’t achieve them, then they can look together at why and what are blockages.

Although the Key Performance Indicators do hold people to account, they do more than that. They enable you to spot blockages and remove them by addressing them together.

Key Performance Indicators are also excellent for your staff, as each member knows what is expected of them and what they are going to be measured against, therefore your KPIs should be meaningful, intuitive, easy to record, and an integral part of their job.

A very powerful way of looking at Key Performance Indicators is to build a company dashboard, and this can be done quite simply, you can have software to do it or you can do it just with a spreadsheet.

Performance Dashboards

The Dashboard is a visual way of measuring how well part of the business or an individual is performing.

Performance dashboard

The example above is looking at the sales figures for a rep.

Individually, we’re able to see that the first graph concentrates on the number of leads.

These are the forecast leads against the actual leads. The figures, in the table below the graph show the forecast and actual figures which have been used to create the graph.

Then we can go to the number of sales. Once again, we can read the figures at the bottom, but the graph shows us the variation of actual against forecast, and with the value of sales, we can see how they varied throughout the months.

Control and accountability give you control over the way in which your team delivers your promise to the world, and surely, nothing is more important than this in your business.

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