Accountability. There’s a loaded word if there was one – and especially in the context of the workplace. If you’ve ever worked in an environment with zero accountability, or been held accountable for the outcome of something you had very little power to influence, then you know first hand how the notion of being held accountable does not generally conjure a positive response.
How does Accountability Fit into the Workplace?
Accountability is about follow through and getting done what you said you’d get done. It’s recognising that other team members are dependant on the results of your work. It’s about open, proactive communication to keep team members informed of the status of your commitments because it has a direct impact on their ability to achieve their own goals.
In the corporate space, accountability is/should be part of company culture. All members of staff should feel the need to deliver work in line with the expected standard which is in line with company goals. Often this doesn’t happen because lower-level employees have no idea what the current mission, vision and goals are of the organisation.
In a Partners in Leadership Workplace Accountability Study, 82% of respondents said they have “limited to no” ability to hold others accountable successfully. On the other hand, 91% of respondents rank accountability near the top of their company’s development needs.
“Genuine accountability comes with a fresh honesty that acknowledges where things can improve and a humility that tempers actions.” – Pete Lowe, author of HRD Connect.
Benefits of Accountability
It builds Trust – which is Everything
When you hold all employees accountable for doing what they are supposed to do, it breeds trust among individuals and teams. It allows people to count on each other, whether that means meeting deadlines, fulfilling duties, or feeling comfortable enough to approach a co-worker or manager for help.
Managers need to lead with transparency, communicate openly, and treat employees fairly with the guidance of policies and standards that apply to everyone. This is, is vital for laying a solid foundation for trust.
Performance improves – dramatically
When employees know who is responsible for what, it eliminates confusion and saves time, allowing individuals to meet clearly defined expectations.Tying accountability to performance also means you proactively pay attention to both process and results by correcting sub-par efforts and rewarding excellent performance.
When employees turn in poor work or fail to meet expectations, hold them accountable, educate them on expectations, and help them improve. It’s just as important to recognize and reward employees who follow guidelines, act appropriately, and meet or exceed expectations.
How to Nurture Accountability
One of the most important things you do as a manager is to provide feedback because not giving feedback is one of the most demotivating things you can do to your employees. Even negative feedback is better than being ignored. When you regularly give feedback (including positive feedback), it makes tough feedback much easier.
Recognize that procrastinating feedback only makes things worse
As uncomfortable as it is, when we procrastinate providing feedback, we only make matters worse. Issues very rarely resolve themselves and just turn into bigger issues. Eventually, you have to deal with it. It’s easier to deal with the issue as soon as possible for you, for the person you’re providing the feedback to and for the rest of the team.
Keep track of your commitments and hold each other accountable
If you make a promise to provide more positive feedback, make sure you add that as a future agenda item to check in to hold yourself accountable. If your employee commits to providing a work back schedule for a project by such and such a date, make sure you have a way to check-in on that day.
One easy way to hold foster a culture of accountability – or, if the damage has already been done, address a lack of accountability – is to make sure you’re assigning action items during meetings. This is a perfect way to hold each and every member of your team accountable for their actions.