How to Increase Accountability in the Workplace
What is Workplace Accountability?
Workplace accountability refers to the employees’ willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. It is all about making clear commitments to perform the job and deliver. With a culture of accountability in place, employees do their work well and managers lead their teams toward success.
Workplace accountability is crucial in the day-to-day operations of the company. It’s a business ideology that builds a desirable culture in the workplace. Managers should recognise the importance of this ideology and integrate it into their direct report’s everyday work.
As managers build a culture of workplace accountability, they should align their direct reports around their team goals, while encouraging open feedback and transparent problem-solving. Managers who can boost workplace accountability help set their team (and company) up for success.
Importance of Workplace Accountability
Managers need to promote workplace accountability to sustain the success of the business. Once an employee embraces accountability, his or her output can go from good to great. Such an employee starts to recognise his or her aptitude and seek personal motivation to finish whatever task he or she has.
Unfortunately, managers can’t require or force accountability on their direct reports. All they can do is foster and support a culture of promoting accountability in the workplace. Managers should encourage employees to take responsibility for their actions and decisions and always act in a manner that benefits the organisation.
When workplace accountability is consistently practised in the workplace, everyone benefits. Here are some of the few things that can be observed.
Quick delivery of results
Workplace accountability helps deliver the results that the organisation requires, which are crucial in sustaining the company’s strength, growth, viability, success, health and well-being. Managers should make every employee understand what kind of results they need to deliver and make them accountable.
Managers should expect every team and individual to deliver results, and they must ensure that each member of the team is aligned and accountable to their goals. They must direct the team’s focus and energy to achieving these goals to promote workplace accountability.
Better employee engagement
Employee engagement is critical to a company’s performance. Gallup research states that a company with engaged employees can outperform their competitors by more than 145%. Employees who embrace accountability will naturally seek out solutions for the company, which is one of the best ways to promote employee engagement.
Accountability can empower employees to take ownership and encourage them to close the gaps between goals and performances. To do that, they seek and enforce innovative solutions in the workplace. It follows that the absence of workplace accountability suggests the lack of innovation and low productivity.
Creation of high-performance teams
To embed accountability into the workplace, managers must establish goals that motivate the team. It also means building trust among team members through encouragement and support, thus empowering the team to celebrate success as one.
When employees embrace accountability and collaborate, there will be more creative solutions to existing problems. Employees who are working towards the same goal actively seek feedback from their managers and peers to determine the gaps in their performance.
Such employees take ownership to close those gaps. They also follow through to achieve the results that the organisation requires. That is how the performance of teams elevates with the integration of accountability in the company’s culture.
Tips to Increase Accountability in the Workplace
Accountability on your team is important. But, navigating around those common roadblocks isn’t always easy.
The good news is that there are a few strategies you can put into play to encourage your team to take responsibility for their own positions, decisions, and mistakes.
1. Recognize Your Own Mistakes (and Openly Discuss Them)
It’s one of the golden rules of leadership: You can’t hold your team to a standard that you don’t abide by yourself. That means one of the most straightforward ways to increase accountability on your team is to lead by example and openly hold yourself accountable.
If you make a decision that ends up being misguided, share that with your team and mention what you’ll do differently next time. If you fall short on a goal, talk about what happened and where you think you personally would have improved.
When 63% of employees reportedly don’t trust their leader, being vocal about your wins and your disappointments (and what you learned from them!) will increase transparency, foster greater trust, and show your team the importance of accepting their own responsibility—and that they’ll be appreciated (rather than punished) for doing so.
2. Involve Employees in the Goal-Setting Process
Imagine that somebody told you to train for a marathon. They didn’t provide any background information about why this goal was important or why it was being assigned to you.
How committed would you be to the training process? And, how likely would be to accept responsibility if marathon day didn’t go well? You’d probably shrug it off and say, “Well, I never understood why I was doing that in the first place.”
It’s a seemingly silly example (after all, hopefully nobody is randomly asking you to run a marathon), but it illustrates an important point. Your team can’t very well be held accountable for visions they don’t understand in the first place. Yet, a whopping 95% of employees admit that they don’t understand the company’s strategy.
As the leader, you need to involve your team members in the goal-setting process—for both personal and team-wide objectives—rather than just handing them down from on high. Doing so boosts their engagement and buy-in, but also gives them the necessary context they need to understand why you’re working toward that finish line at all.
Having that understanding of the bigger picture will help them grasp where they fit in, and as a result, take accountability for their pieces of the puzzle.
3. Make Expectations Clear
Remember when we talked about the fact that it’s hard for employees to hold themselves accountable if they don’t understand what’s expected of them?
That’s why it’s important that you make expectations blatantly clear for everybody on your team. There are tons of different ways that you can accomplish this, but here are a few ideas:
When onboarding new employees, give them a guide that details the responsibilities and requirements of their new roles.
During project kickoffs, share a plan that includes action items, deadlines, and who is responsible for each.
Host frequent team meetings and one-on-ones when you can discuss expectations and progress.
Your team will have a much easier time accepting responsibility for themselves when they clearly understand what benchmarks they need to be achieving.
4. Ensure Necessary Resources
Your employees don’t always shirk accountability just because they’re trying to pass the buck. Sometimes they truly believe that they really aren’t the reason that things didn’t pan out the way they should have.
An accountable team needs to be well supported. That means that all other external requirements should be met. When that’s done, all that’s left is personal accountability.
Does your team have the necessary tools and software to complete this task? Is the timeline actually realistic with their current bandwidth? Do they have access to the expertise and supplemental materials they need?
If those boxes aren’t checked, you’re significantly hindering your team’s ability to accept responsibility—because there’s a slew of barriers that weren’t within their personal control.
Once the task or objective is clear and understood, you need to make sure that the team member is committed to the standards and expectations. Also, it will help if they understand how doing so will be of benefit to them and the team. As Rick says, “Just because your employees know what to do doesn’t mean they’ll do it. After goals and expectations are set, employees need to commit to achieving them.”
Also remember that, from a motivational perspective, your team member is more likely to commit when they ‘buy-in’ to the goal; when they have context for each assigned task. Team members are more likely to connect to a goal when they understand how this goal fits into the ‘bigger picture’ and why achieving it really matters.
Provide opportunities for skill improvement
Employee development and accountability go hand in hand. Giving team members opportunities to learn, grow, and expand their skills means you’re setting them up to be more productive, engaged team members when it comes to projects. Make sure you have a program in place that encourages training, education, and hands-on work so your team members are always sharpening their skills.