‘Clarity’ key to building a culture of accountability & ownership: Ricardo Lillo
For the better part of the last two decades, Ricardo Lillo has served as the CEO of DOOR International, a global training, coaching and consulting company. DOOR International specializes in creating customized solutions that are focused on sustainable and efficient results.
DOOR offers simple, fast and effective models and tools that can be applied at every level of the company. Their solutions are always customized and focused on quick and sustainable results. They are backed by extensive experience in various industries, disciplines, and levels of hierarchy, across the globe.
With cross-border training capabilities in more than 100 countries, DOOR International is known for its effective models and tools that can be used at various levels within an organization. Empowering leaders and employees to unlock their highest potential is DOOR’s forté. Under Ricardo Lillo’s leadership, DOOR has helped companies build a culture that instills a sense of ownership and accountability among entry-level employees, middle management and executive leaders. Cutting across hierarchies an organization can have a direct impact on business results and DOOR International specializes in helping organizations inculcate a behavior of accountability in a way that the company achieves these tangible results.
Ricardo Lillo’s company enables teams to identify and address the crucial gaps within their corporate culture and how to close it.
An electrical engineer by education, his passion for enabling organizations across the globe achieve measurable and sustainable results motivated him to pursue advanced degrees in Business Administration. With an experience across various sectors spanning from nuclear to aerospace to global franchising, he is known as an innovative thinker who motivates teams to unlearn long-standing patterns of work and unlocking the experimentative potential.
In 2002, the DOOR global franchise was bought out which led to a period of growth and expansion for the training and consulting firm.
Describe your journey from an engineer to helping organizations drive learning and development efforts.
I got the opportunity to become a part of DOOR International in 2001. Prior to that, my life was about being a corporate executive in MNCs. I thought my entire career was going to continue in the corporate culture--just ensuring that the day-to-day transactional tasks are completed. However, I always had a passion for bringing about a change in processes. I wanted to explore different ways of building a company culture when I got this opportunity to help DOOR go international.
My whole corporate life took a turn for the better when I was able to secure the exclusive distribution of the Partners In LeadershipTM Accountability Solutions, which allows me to take our accountability-related solutions across the world. It was the beginning of a great ride as this unique approach to delivering enduring results, speaks for itself!
The care for our clients paired with our global footprint has allowed us to become true partners of many of our global clients.
Speaking of accountability, in your opinion, what aspect of employee culture and behavior drives productivity in a way that it has a direct impact on the business bottom-line?
The key is engagement. Normally, not more than 20 percent of the employees are truly engaged at their workplace. There are some people who are highly engaged and there are others who are not! This contributes to the widening gaps between employees and the leaders. It also has a direct impact on their productivity and by corollary the business bottom-line.
However, leaders--be it HR leaders, CEOs or CXOs--need to understand that there is a direct link of behavior between engagement and culture of accountability. If employees are enabled and empowered enough to completely own their work, own the task at hand, they are more likely to be engaged at their workplace. Once you completely own a product, you are more prone to thinking outside the box and trying to find innovative solutions to your work challenges.
That is the way a company can get innovative!
If an employee is unable to link her or his activity or role in the office with the larger objective of the business as a whole, then that particular employee is likely to get disengaged quickly. She or he might already be searching for a new job and is mentally disconnected!
That’s why, inculcating the thought-process of imagining the big picture and understanding what part each employee plays in it is crucial to building a behavior of ownership and engagement among employees.
If your business is achieving the required results and you can identify clear ownership among various stakeholders, then achieving the bottom-line is a given.
The behavior of ownership and engagement goes back to the basic questions: What is your purpose? Why did you take up the job with this company? Do you know what you are accountable for? What is your job?
There needs to be a high level of transparency and clarity across different levels of the organization. It is important that everyone across different hierarchies and departments in the organization understand where the company is headed and how they can contribute to achieving the results.
Clarity is not gained by just sending an email or putting up a poster! Managers and team leaders need to empathize with their teams and regularly update them about the new products in the pipeline, the new or set targets and ventures that the company is planning, etc. It is about informing the employees where the company is headed to as well as understanding their perspective. If your employees were to understand the true purpose and goals in the organization, the level of their engagement would go up, accountability goes up, productivity and the achievement of key results also go up.
If we can simplify the company message to three or four memorable and measurable and meaningful results, then everybody knows it--not just your top 10 percent of the high-performing employees but every single person on your payroll and this is what makes the difference!
How can organizational leaders embark upon the journey of building a culture of accountability?
The steps that organizational leaders can take to inculcate a behavior pattern of accountability can vary--depending on which sector the organization is under. However, it all begins with the first step of realization. The realization that the resources that are available in the form of employees are not performing to their fullest potential.
It is also important to understand that the type of talent and work that yielded the desired results up until now might not work when the leaders are bracing for the future of the organization. A rapidly digitizing place of work is an arena where one needs new skills, new perspectives, and automated processes. The first step is to realize that we are not performing at the level that we should be performing. It is the realization that something needs to change.
Many times, it is about the level of employee satisfaction and engagement.
However, once past the realization phase, it is crucial to note that the real challenge begins now. The key is to engage the employees rather than changing the rules one fine day and not communicating about the changes to the employees--who are the first ones to feel the impact of a change.
It also does not mean that leaders start telling them what to do so that they keep doing what we ask them to do. It means that the leadership needs to align with the people. The journey of cultural transformation doesn’t just begin one fine day. It takes a lot of internal evaluations, organizational introspection and embracing the fact that something needs to change.
Can you shed some light on the major characteristics or skills to keep in mind when imbibing accountability within the employees of an organization?
It is crucial to build up the psychology of ownership and accountability. Major characteristics of ownership include taking the feedback cycle into your own hands which basically means that employees do not have to wait for the quarterly or yearly review for their feedback. They can seek constructive feedback from their peers at any given time.
Continuous feedback-seeking culture goes hand in hand with encouraging innovation across all levels. Risk-taking behavior is also a part of accountability and empowering employees to take ownership of the experiments. That’s why a safe place wherein failure is accepted as a part of innovation and learning will automatically encourage the behavior of taking ownership among the employees.
Which metrics would you say are instrumental in keeping a check on whether the culture of accountability is creating an impact or not?
The minute you get HR involved, the measuring begins! I would say that seeing the impact on the business results is the most direct and efficient way of knowing whether you have an effective, efficient, and productive culture. We’ve been able to come up with an index called the Workplace Accountability IndexTM. The index measures the company’s agility to be able to execute different strategies. It connects the relationship between accountability, engagement, growth, and achievement. The ability of an organization to adapt to change and embrace transformation is the most critical data. We measure accountability which is ingrained in the culture of results.