Building a Culture of Accountability to Drive Results

By Tierra Madani, CPHR, HR Consultant, Chemistry Consulting Group

It seems we have all been feeling propelled forward these days as we turn the switch from ‘recovery mode’ to the ON button. As we get back to business, we are facing unique challenges within our working world that need to be mended before we turn our engines on to full speed ahead. 

One of the ways in which we can create a solution around these challenges is by bringing awareness to accountability.


HR & Communication Challenges in Today’s Workplace

The unique challenges we are facing in our workplaces can stem from how we are working; including environments that are hybrid, at the workplace and/or remote. Even before the pandemic, many teams were set up in this way just to a lesser degree for some. HR professionals and people leaders have been working in the background on bridging communication gaps and solving conflict that derive from these mixed workplace settings but adding the pressure that comes from picking up our pace has made it overwhelming. 

Broken links can happen anywhere within our organizations and our teams. Two key HR functions that require special attention right now are employee engagement and the onboarding of new hires. In today’s labour market experiencing nationwide staff shortages, our businesses are struggling to retain and engage top talent. It is critical that we look to address and follow-up on communication challenges such as reading between the lines, miscommunications, and different interpretations from a mix of online vs messaging vs texting vs in-person communication exchanges. 


Accountability as the Solution

Although we know it is literally impossible to be everywhere at once, for some reason there is this feeling of a superpower that remote work gives us where we are confident in our ability to communicate effectively everywhere we need to. Clearly this is one reason communication breaks down and the quality of our work is being negatively affected. Holding each other responsible to do things right and when we need them done by is the foundation of accountability, and therefore an effective solution to the challenges we are continuing to face. 

Let’s use employee onboarding as a challenge where accountability can help. 

Coordinating orientations and onboarding plans are no easy task, especially when done virtually or when the pressure of staff shortages doesn’t allow for much training time at all. Clearly communicating who is accountable to look after your new employee and when the responsibility is passed over to someone else. There is no accountability without clear expectations set, so that should be the priority from the day the employment agreement is signed. Determine the best method of communication to set expectations with your team, whether through a group email, a text message group, or a new Teams conversation. Also don’t leave your new hire in the dark and do your best to prepare them in advance of their first day. 

A little extra communication and time taken to clarify who is playing what role in the process is key to avoiding pitfalls. 


Leading and Supporting Accountability 

HR professionals and people leaders can lead and support accountability, but how and to what degree? 

Building a culture of accountability is a great place to start. Although it is not an easy task, there are several benefits of using accountability as a strategy which makes it worthwhile to take this step back from our fast-paced world to build a new and stronger foundation. By developing and promoting a culture of accountability at your organization, you’ll be improving employee engagement through trust, transparency, communication, teamwork and critical thinking in decision making. 

Use accountability to drive results through ownership, commitment to continuous improvements and resilience. Encourage more frequent performance reviews and/or project status reports throughout the year, instead of only focusing on this annually or semi-annually. Commit time to discussing your employees’ professional and personal development plans and what each of you will be accountable for as you look ahead. 

Behaviors vs Personality: Why it matters for TEAM SUCCESS

The terms “behavior” and “personality” are often used interchangeably. However, they are fundamentally different.

Behaviors are observable reactions to stimuli. They are visible actions or words that a person displays.

People behave fairly predictably. And every individual has their own behavioral style (e.g., how you react to stress is likely different from how your colleagues react to stress).

There are two fundamental characteristics of behaviors:

  1. Behavior is observable by others
  2. Behavior can be modified; you can control your behavior

Behaviors are perceived in different ways depending on the context in which they occur and the state of mind of the person observing.

Behaviors can be interpreted completely differently than what is intended (by the person exhibiting the behaviors). For example, you may think you are showing empathy while others may perceive it as placating.

The observations of others are key to understanding your behavior and its effects (positive or negative). This is because self-observation is not a common strength/ability.

At their core, behaviors are observable “doings”.

Personality, on the other hand, is a combination of values, views, set responses, patterns of thought, and characteristics. Personality is your complex inner world. It is who you are—your upbringing, your environment, your values, your social status, your beliefs, your traumas, etc. One can (and will) exhibit a different personality based on the context/environment.

In contrast to behaviors, personalities are unique. Others can observe parts of your personality (e.g., your behaviors, your opinions, your history, etc.), but these are all only part of your personality—a world that is largely hidden from others.

If one wanted to change their personality, they could not rely on others’ observations because no one can figure out, from the outside, what makes you who you are. Again, a fundamental difference between personality and behaviors.

Because of these fundamental characteristic differences, influencing others through behaviors has a much higher success rate than attempting to influence by way of personality.

At Vivo Team, we focus on behaviors. Why? 

Behaviors are task specific, easy to articulate, and easy to measure. We rely on The Video Test—active observation of a person’s behaviors so you can accurately describe them. Describing the behaviors is the starting point for a two-way conversation about an issue or problem in order to find a better way.

How does the focus on behaviors support and benefit teams?

When a leader makes a decision, it affects their entire team. Therefore, it is essential that leaders make behaviorally-informed decisions (i.e., decisions based on observable, documentable behaviors of their team members).

A good behavioral assessment enables proactive leadership. It helps a leader understand, beforehand, how people will react to the decision(s) they make, so they can manage, direct, and support their team members in the most effective way possible.

Alternatively, leading based on personality may result in labeling—the labeling of oneself and others. Labeling is limiting and we don’t want to restrain people.

So who wins this knock-out round? Behaviors or personality? If you lead based on behaviors, you’re sure to take the top prize.


Many thanks to: Peter Krammer, Senior Partner, Okos Partners; Dr. Jim Sellner – EVP, People Analytics & Talent Activation, Vivo Team; and Greg Basham, Executive Coach for their insights and contributions. 

Why you should care about people analytics in L&D

People analytics and learning and development (L&D) have become buzzwords in HR and the professional workforce. However, these buzzwords can be elusive. So, we took it upon ourselves to unpack these concepts. We sat down with Vivo Team’s EVP of People Analytics and Talent Activation, Dr. Jim Sellner, to discuss how people analytics in L&D apply to you, and why you should care. Check it out for yourself with our FREE Team Assessment! 


Question: What is people analytics in L&D?

Dr. Jim: MIT Sloan defines people analytics as: “a data-driven approach to improving people-related decisions for the purpose of advancing the success of not only the organization, but also of individual employees”.

To be more specific, Vivo Team’s people analytics focuses on Team and Leader Development Programs and Coaching, aka learning and development or L&D.

The term people analytics is used in HR to measure a wide variety of elements including: retention, time spent onboarding, attendance, etc.


Q: Why is people analytics in L&D important?

Dr. Jim: People analytics in L&D provides the data our clients require to measure the growth, development, and successes of their team and/or leader development programs and coaching. This is done in terms of behaviors and dollars (by measuring a decrease in the cost of lost productivity*). People analytics in L&D is highly accurate in diagnosing the effects of behaviors on teams. That’s why people analytics in L&D is so important!

*The cost of lost productivity, in simple terms, is loss of work/revenue/production caused by the unavailability of an employee for any reason in terms of dollars.


Q: How is people analytics used in L&D?

Dr. Jim: People analytics in L&D is a process to identify the need for training and the specific areas that need to be addressed first. Traditionally, in L&D, it’s called a training needs analysis. Within people analytics, the training needs are identified by the participants, and the algorithm builds a more accurate, detailed diagnosis.


Q: How does people analytics support leaders and their teams?

Dr. Jim: People analytics provides teams and leaders the tools to diagnose, analyze, predict, prescribe, deliver, and evaluate their learning and development efforts.


Q: How does L&D support a productive workplace people want to be a part of?

Dr. Jim: By including people in the diagnosis of what’s happening in the team dynamics. They identify the most important areas for improvement which increases the probability that they will be engaged in committing to making performance improvements—the WIIFM principle, What’s In It For Me?


Q: Specifically, can you describe how Vivo Team uses people analytics in their learning development program?

Dr. Jim: People analytics form the foundation of Vivo Team’s proprietary, award-winning VSR (Vital Statistics Report). Validated by the University of British Columbia’s Statistics Department, the VSR measures team effectiveness through the 6 key indicators of high performance (i.e., communication, interactive feedback, accountability, structures, emotional intelligence, and cohesion). These indicators provide leaders and teams the ability to diagnose, analyze, predict, prescribe, deliver, and evaluate their L&D efforts.


Q: Can you discuss the science behind it?

Dr. Jim: The science is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software applications to become more accurate at predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed to do so. The algorithms use historical data as input to predict new output values.


Thanks for chatting with us, Dr. Jim! 

Podcast: The Boutique with Collective 54

Episode #71 – How a Learning and Development Firm Retains Key Employees – Member Case

Do Your Behaviors Align with Your Company Values?

“Your vision is something you want to dream about when you go to sleep at night.”

This may sound hot and heavy, but it doesn’t have to be.

At Vivo Team, we focus on the behaviors we demonstrate on a regular basis that are of high value to us, and we prioritize them; they formulate our core values: we are creators, we are leaders, we are champions.

Employee loyalty is a direct reflection of your company’s values.

We are Creators.

  • Our thoughtful and innovative approach to tackling new challenges results in impactful solutions.

We are Leaders.

  • Our passion and energy inspires our drive to achieve results for our team, our company, and our clients.

We are Champions.

  • Our success stems from our ability to build relationships, connect, collaborate, and celebrate across geographies.

As Renée shared with Greg Alexander, Founder of Collective 54 and The Boutique podcast:

“What’s important for me, as leader of the company, is I want to make sure that everybody (back to employee loyalty, employee engagement, and the intellectual capital of our organization) can embrace these core values. That I too want to be a creator. I want to be a leader. And I want to be a champion. If we can all align with that, then we’ve got something to build on.”

To ensure ongoing values alignment, and ultimately accountability, we’ve implemented a structure of “Feedback Friday”.

What does this look like?

On a weekly basis, we provide feedback to one another in response to the question: “What are the behaviors that I, or others, demonstrated that align with our values?” It keeps our coast-to-coast hybrid team aligned and accountable!

In this way, as Renée explained, we are also activating peer-to-peer feedback. Regular interactive feedback needs to become a regular practice within organizations.

Our vision, at Vivo Team, is to create winning companies and inspiring leaders. And our mission is to develop competence, motivation, and collaboration in the pursuit of outstanding results. Here, Renée expressed: “I also want my employees to be able to achieve that as well, in their day to day, and in their career achievement with us”.

Vivo Team has “attracted great employees because of our values, our vision, and our mission”, Renée stated. With good leaders and managers that are tightly connected around their accountabilities, we have an equation for success!

Be accountable to your values, your vision, and your mission. Accountability isn’t a one-and-done. It’s all about ongoing alignment.

Behaviors demonstrate accountability, so it’s important to behave in a way that supports and reinforces your vision, your dreams, and your aspirations.

Interested in what else Renée has to say? Listen to the full Episode #71 – How a Learning and Development Firm Retains Key Employees – Member Case.

Time Blocking with Tee Komsa

Name: Tee Komsa

Role: Manager of Client Experience & Product Delivery

Favourite Productivity Tool: Time Blocking

Why: As someone with a lot of to-do’s, time blocking keeps me focused and efficient. Time blocking is an absolutely critical part of my day. In Client Experience, I’m constantly working on client programming and projects that are at different stages and timelines. Focusing my efforts in my day on my top priority client tasks and projects ensures my success—I can’t live without it!

Next-Level Manager

A Next-Level Manager (NLM) is the person you directly report to.

Do you have a NLM? Or, maybe you are one?

Your role as a NLM encompasses much more than just managing. It involves leading by example.

Lead with connection. Remaining connected with your direct report(s), especially in a hybrid or virtual work environment, is essential to maintaining clear communication, company cohesion, and accountability.

One way to do this is through a periodic check-in: a short, 10 minute semi-structured meeting between NLMs and their direct report(s).

If you’re a team member and you don’t regularly check-in with your NLM, consider introducing this idea in your organization or to your manager.

Why do an NLM check-in? 

It supports development and commitment, encourages active application of learnings, and keeps everyone in the know.

  • 25% of leaders and managers perform better
  • 29% are more committed
  • 40% are more likely to stay with the organization

What’s involved in an NLM check-in?

It’s an open dialogue between NLM and direct report. Consider key discussion points including: recent learnings, successes, and difficulties.

As an NLM, remember, your job is to listen, ask for clarification when needed, and refrain from prompting your direct report(s). This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their ability to level up!

To ensure both parties are on the same page at the end of the check-in, conclude with a round of appreciations (something you liked), difficulties (anything you’re stuck on), and final statements (last words). At Vivo Team we make a concerted effort to end all of our meetings that way–encouraging immediate feedback, mutual understanding, and next steps.

8 Things Great Leaders Do

Leaders are great, but great leaders are better! So how do you go from being a good leader to being a great leader? As an emergent leader, or one who wants to level-up, what does this look like?

Check out the list of 8 things great leaders do that we’ve compiled from some of our great leaders!


1. Great leaders move decisions forward instead of sitting on them or procrastinating. This is something our CEO & Founder, Renée Safrata, models every day.

2. Make each day a series of small “yeses” and model this for your team. It’s a fundamental shift in approach and mindset. Encourage your team to bring forward solutions rather than bringing forward problems and expecting you (the leader) to solve them.

Emergent leaders: this is an easy and effective way to level-up your leadership! Say “yes” and commit to giving this a try. Remember, as the first point identifies, great leaders action items; so start by actioning this one!

3. Great leaders use “The Platinum Rule” when interacting with people. The platinum rule involves finding out what others want, are interested in, and passionate about, and then doing everything you can to help them to reach their goal(s). Our VP of Talent Activation and People Analytics, Dr. Jim Sellner, practices this rule.

David Yudis, a Vivo Team Executive Coach, shares a similar mindset: engage with The Platinum Rule, consider how others need to receive communication and adapt your messaging accordingly.

This element of personalization demonstrates your awareness as a leader, and shows your willingness to work to best support your team.

4. Great leadership isn’t just about you, and what you do. Our Executive Coach, Petra Mayer’s favorite thing great leaders do is listen and encourage great listening skills on their team.

Active listening helps to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes while demonstrating an interest in what is important to others–the foundation of empathy. This is critical for emerging leaders. Empathy is the ability and willingness to seek to understand others and is also a key ingredient in emotional intelligence.

5. Great leaders are energetic and inspiring, shares our Coach Greg Basham. They are excellent storytellers with engaging visions. This skill doesn’t happen overnight; practice makes perfect. As an emerging leader, this is a great place to start—test the waters, practice, refine, and learn from your mistakes.

6. Great leaders believe in their people. Believing is the first step, but the level up is demonstrating this belief. Consider the ways in which you can demonstrate your belief in your team.

7. Great leaders benchmark the achievement of their aspirations with data gathered from their teams. Data, analytics, and measurement is necessary to chart growth and track development. Achievements and results are difficult to demonstrate and justify without measurable, data-driven indicators. Our team assessment is crucial in this process. It measures and tracks team and leader performance, check it out! And, try assessing your own team.

8. Great leaders embrace discomfort. They openly and excitedly work through issues when there are conflicts around strategy or decisions. This openness and willingness to engage with discomfort is key for emerging leaders as well as those looking to level-up.

Embracing discomfort (rather than shutting down in moments of uncertainty) displays a willingness to learn and an appreciation for continued learning, growth, and development. THIS is what you want to continually demonstrate as an emerging leader. Such comfortability with discomfort positions you as a role model for your team members–encouraging them to be equally open to exploring and accepting discomfort.

Whether you’re a long-time leader or an emerging leader, strive to be a great one!

Slack with Erin Berube

Name: Erin Berube

Role: Vice President Operations

Favourite Productivity Tool: Slack

Why: As a 100% remote team, Slack is a critical tool in our productivity tool kit. It’s our communication window into the rest of the team and it supports my productivity by letting me know what my team members are up to, or if they are available without having to ask. We achieve this through our daily updates channel and through our use of notifications.

As the team grows, things change and we adjust our norms. Just recently, we received some feedback that team members who have been here longer were using a lot of acronyms in their Slack messages, making it difficult for new members to understand. We established a new norm and responded to change with resilience—improving our communication and our productivity!

Feedback Fuels Change Resilience

What’s one thing you wouldn’t share with your team? Would it be in your best interest to share it? What’s something you weren’t previously aware of, but now you are?

These questions relate to different quadrants of the Interactive Feedback Matrix, a Vivo Team model for developing emotional intelligence (EQ) and a method for building collaboration. The Interactive Feedback Matrix is composed of four quadrants:

Download the Interactive Feedback worksheet to plot your matrix!

The Public Self – The public self indicates levels of self-awareness. It’s what others know and are aware of about you.

The Private SelfOpposite to the public self, the private self represents what others don’t know about you. A large private self can be suggestive of low level social skills.

The Blind SelfThe blind self is what you are not aware of. In other words, it represents your own unawareness. Researchers have found that although 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10% to 15% actually are. (Harvard Business Review) 

The Unknown Self – The unknown self represents your well of potential. For example, maybe there’s something you thought you couldn’t do, but now you do really well.


You might be wondering what this has to do with feedback. Self-disclosure and giving feedback, feedforward, and following up can increase your public self, resulting in deeper connection and collaboration with your teams and leaders. On the other hand, asking for feedback, feedforward and following up can help you with both your blind and unknown self. (Read more about feedback, feedforward, and follow up here.)

The Interactive Feedback Matrix is more than just a personal tool, it can also be applied in a company setting.

Imagine you’re the leader of your team and you recently learned some change-related information, but you’re hesitant to share it with your team because you’re afraid it will create fragility and uncertainty. 

In the context of the Interactive Feedback Matrix, this change-related information currently sits in the private quadrant, along with other items such as the organization’s financials, hiring/firing insight, etc. 

The blind quadrant refers to what others know about you, but you aren’t aware of internally–perhaps customer service has gone awry but the company isn’t attune to this mishap. 

Continuing with the organizational approach to the matrix, the unknown quadrant is simply just that–the unknown. Many organizations have likely sat in this quadrant at some point throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The unknown, however, is where innovation and gems hide. Companies need to strategically harness these “unknowns” to add greater value to client experience. 

And finally, the public quadrant. This refers to the public-facing brand of the company/organization–what employees and the public are aware of. 

The matrix seamlessly shifts from being an individualized, personal tool, to being a company/organizational business tactic. 

Understanding both the personal and organizational applications of the Interactive Feedback Matrix facilitates emotional intelligence, collaboration, and ultimately change resilience.  

To start to uncover personal and company blind spots or to dig into that well of potential of the unknown, start asking for and giving interactive feedback.

2022 Learning and Development Trends

Trying to digest the buffet of 2022 learning and development (L&D) trends? We’ve done the taste testing for you! Here are our top five research trends in people analytics and L&D for 2022, served to you on a silver platter.

Change and adaptability are the dominant flavours, but don’t let them leave a sour taste in your mouth. Change is the spice of life; be aware and prepared, and you’ll be resilient!

Sample the 5-course menu below:

1. Reframing soft skills to “power skills”

Soft skills (i.e., communication, interactive feedback, structures, accountability, cohesion, and emotional intelligence) don’t reside in the periphery anymore, they’ve become essential, some may even say “powerful”. These skills give you, your team(s), and your company an edge–they’re critical to performance and success.

2. Employee engagement

Ensuring employees remain engaged and feel heard and respected supports longevity and retention. Communication, collaboration, and cohesion are key. Remember, a satisfied and supported workforce is a successful one!

3. Hybrid and virtual training is here to stay

63% of high-growth, high-revenue companies have adopted a hybrid working model (Accenture). Consider joining this club–they clearly know what they’re doing!

4. Collaboration

Gone are the days of siloed office cubicles. Collaboration among teams and leaders fuels creativity and innovation. Get ready to watch your productivity soar!

5. Application of learning

Listening and learning is one thing, but applying your learnings is another. Successful application of new knowledge is key; and our Team Assessment measures and tracks performance improvements–check it out!



(Based on reports from Training Industry, Udemy Business, SAP Litmos, Josh Bersin, Cindy Huggett, The Learning & Development Podcast, Jam3, and Dr. Nick H.M. van Dam.)