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SART Foundations: Rethinking Accountability in the Team Context

Accountability can be a really intense word. When I introduce the idea of accountability to my team or in my trainings, people often have a visible reaction, because they think of it in negative terms. Accountability is often paired with negative consequences. I’m here today to share my viewpoint that accountability is awesome for your team and doesn’t have to be negative. But, let’s take a minute to define what I mean when I’m talking about accountability.

Accountability: an active commitment to take the necessary actions to ensure the improvement of the sexual violence response.

In this scenario, accountability is a willing choice. It’s not just something that is assigned to you or connected to negative consequences. Rather, it’s the opportunity to step up and do good work.

You can develop strategies of accountability by framing each part of the team’s work as a series of choices. I regularly did this with my team. For example, I would work on tasks and if a team member didn’t complete the work and didn’t communicate, I considered it a choice to not engage in that part. When we met as a team, I would talk about the members who were able to contribute to that part of the process. I did not keep trying to reach out for that particular set of information. I moved forward. This held people to their commitments, and if they didn’t get there, they were not called out. We moved forward. People began to make intentional choices about showing up and taking necessary actions for the work to be successful.

This is one way of designing the team’s work grounded in positive engagement. Accountability can and should be a series of willing choices. Accountability is a way in which all team members contribute to the team’s success in making a difference for victim/survivors. Framing it that way makes all the difference.

Do you have thoughts and experiences with team accountability? Leave your active choice to contribute in the comments!