As I travel around the country working with businesses, I run into the same problems no matter the company’s size, age or financial situation. And plenty of those frustrations stem from the same common issue: lack of accountability.

There are many pieces that go into the accountability puzzle. Defined outcomes and proper allocation of resources are essential for an honest and transparent business model. In the same way, those involved on a project should understand everyone’s role and have the proper time to devote to the work.

But none of these accountability measures matter if your employees don’t know what the final goal or big picture is. At a recent session, I had participants try to put together a puzzle without an idea of what the completed image should look like. Not one participant asked for a completed picture. In fact, of the 75+ times I’ve used this exercise, no one has ever asked me for a picture of what they were trying to build.

Why did no one ask? Because so often employees are used to receiving and working on a project with very little idea of the end result. It seems counterintuitive to start working on a puzzle without knowing the image, when, in fact, employees do this all the time.

During the exercise debriefing, I always show the picture of the puzzle and ask this question: “Would it have been helpful to have this puzzle picture before you began?” And, of course, the answer is always a resounding, “Yes!”

Without a reasonable level of clarity, how can someone be expected to solve a problem or be held accountable for what wasn’t shared? Assuming knowledge is never advisable. What’s more, it reflects poor management.

In order for leaders to hold their teams accountable, they must first clearly define the desired outcomes. Everything else flows from there. Effective leaders are constantly sharing information and establishing accountability to achieve results.