How Accountable Are America’s Workplaces? An Interview with Linda Galindo

by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Linda Galindo is a speaker, educator, and author who works with corporations around the world to improve accountability. I asked her to discuss accountability at all levels in corporate culture in the United States.

JATHAN JANOVE: How are America’s companies doing on accountability?


JJ: Why do you think they aren’t doing well?

LG: Not being accountable is being rewarded more than being accountable.

JJ: How so?

LG: Let’s say you’re a manager. You can spend time teaching, nurturing, and developing your employees. Or you can hit your quarterly targets. What do you do? The answer is obvious. When something goes wrong with an employee, you put in a quick fix rather than a long-term solution. I call it, “rescue, fix, and save.”

JJ: But aren’t managers and executives evaluated according to their ability to develop and retain talent?

LG: If you look at most performance evaluation forms for management, they include developing and retaining employees. In reality, however, it’s still hitting your numbers and meeting the immediate deadlines that get the reward. Thus, even when a manager has done nothing to develop or retain talent, a manager who hits the numbers and meets the deadlines, still gets a raise.

JJ:  What are the consequences of this short-term focus?

LG: One is that we punish our best performers. We assign them the work underperformers aren’t doing. This causes talent burnout. Then watch out when the economy improves.

Another consequence is reverse delegation. To hit those short-term targets, instead of addressing the employee problem, the manager simply does the underperformer’s work. His or her time is thus spent doing the work versus coaching, mentoring, and developing others to do it.

JJ: Is this a problem only at certain levels of management such as with new supervisors?

LG: No, it’s a problem at all levels—regardless of position and number of years of experience.

Here’s an example: At a board of directors’ retreat, I ran into the CEO late one evening at the hotel. He was holding a pile of papers and seemed agitated.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

He said, “There’s a problem. One of my VPs messed up a part of the presentation for tomorrow’s board meeting. I’m going back to my hotel room to fix it.”

“What’s his room number?” I asked.

The CEO looked at me in astonishment. “Why do you ask?”

I said, “If there’s a problem with what he did, let’s go knock on his door and tell him to fix it.”

The CEO looked at me like I was crazy. Instead, he scurried off to his hotel room to use the approach he still uses—rescue, fix, and save.

JJ: If non-accountability is the norm and accountability is the exception, how do you change that pattern?

LG: As a manager or executive, the question to ask yourself is: “Have I allowed this to happen?” If so, make a commitment to yourself to stop the enabling pattern.

The next time you’re faced with a performance or behavior that falls below expectations, the first question to ask yourself is: “Have I been clear?” If you haven’t been clear, hold yourself accountable.

Accountability starts with you, not your employee.

But if you have made yourself clear, hold your employee accountable. This doesn’t mean punishment or discipline. It means making very clear what the expectations were, what the results were, and why it’s necessary that things change going forward.

JJ: Is there an approach you recommend that managers use?

LG: Yes. I call it the “Clear Agreement.” It consists of asking the following questions:

  1. What have I agreed to?
  2. What outcome do I expect?
  3. What resources are needed?
  4. What are the consequences of failure?
  5. What are the benefits of success?

JJ: Is the Clear Agreement best used with problem employees?

LG: No! On the contrary, it’s best used with high performers. The Clear Agreement is not a hammer; it’s a resource.

JJ: Won’t there be inherent suspicion that the agreement is disciplinary?

LG: Not if you explain it properly. Point out that the agreement doesn’t reflect a lack of trust in your employees. It reflects a lack of trust in yourself. That’s why you have to get things absolutely clear.

JJ: Is there a connection between accountability and employee engagement?

LG: Absolutely! Accountable organizations tell their talent, “You’re in a desirable, long-term situation. We will be totally accountable with you and we hope you will be totally accountable with us. That way, together we can create value and build a lasting organization.”

A culture that embraces personal accountability creates the optimal environment for talent to flourish and not want to leave for all the right reasons.

JJ: Is there a price to be paid for transitioning to a culture that embraces and rewards personal accountability?

LG: Unfortunately, yes. During the transition, you will not be popular because you will likely have to remove some people from positions they have held for a long time. If you conduct employee engagement surveys, don’t be surprised if your score plunges. In fact, if it doesn’t, your commitment is probably not sincere.

But persevere. If you stay the course, those scores will eventually soar. It will take unshakable determination, starting with your company’s highest-ranking executive. Yet the outcomes will be profound.

What’s the level of accountability in your organization? What’s being done to improve it?

Linda Galindo is a speaker, coach, consultant, and author of The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success—No Nonsense, No Excuses. Contact her at

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.