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Madelyn Wilson

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Bringing More Accountability Into Your Workplace


Every manager desires workplace accountability because it's clearly linked to higher work performance. Although not as clear, accountability also improves competency, creativity, commitment, innovation, morale, and satisfaction. All of these things happen when employees are truly invested in their company's future.

Why You Need Accountability In Your Business

When there isn't any accountability, there isn't any execution. This is because people don't feel as though they need to get work done well and on time. When “accidents” happen, leniency and forgiveness follow, which makes it a little more acceptable for the same “accident” to occur again in the future.

At the same time, when there's no accountability, delays grow enormous and get out of hand. This also impacts the work at hand, as well as that which is further downstream in the pipeline. For instance, if you have 10 people waiting for you and you're running two minutes late, the team loses 22 minutes total. Here is only one example of how the lack of accountability has a snowball effect.

Unfortunately, many companies simply tolerate missed deadlines, a lack of punctuality, and work that goes unfinished today – seeing it as “no big deal.” Sometimes this occurs because they learn that the real deadline is a week from what's published, that being late is the norm, and that sub-par work is acceptable as long as it gets done. What employees don't realize is this places a huge, cumulative impact on everyone in the company.

All of this is backed by a study conducted by AMA Enterprise. Here they found that 21% of participants in this study said that “unaccountable employees make up 30-50 percent of their workforce.” When you stop to consider the impact this has on a business, it's astronomical.

Assessing Your Team

With these things in mind, have you ever stopped to assess your team's accountability? There are actually four factors that actually directly contribute to a person's accountability. These are things that equate to happier outlooks and better results overall. They include:

Commitment is the willingness to do whatever is necessary to get the results you need. Regardless of what the challenge or task at hand is, your team must be willing to do whatever is necessary, even when it isn't directly written into their job description. When your employees are accountable in this way, they can fulfill a larger role for the company's greater good.

Resilience means doing away with pity parties and hanging in there no matter how tough times get. This requires channeling your inner tenacity so you can quickly bounce back when you experience any type of setback. It means pushing forward regardless of what's happening around them. When management encourages this type of accountability in their team, employees start understanding that they have more power than they thought they did.

Taking full ownership of our actions and the results they bring about means that we embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly things life throws our way. By helping employees recognize how good they're doing, you're preparing them for receiving feedback about areas where they need improvement. Help them see this feedback as a stepping stone towards improvement and their own, personal happiness.

Continuous learning is just part of life. Failure to learn something each day is impossible. When you stop learning and growing, you may as well give up. Of course, it isn't fun to make mistakes, but you shouldn't see these as failures. Instead, help your employees see these as teachable moments that will help them be more successful in the future. Don't let your employees get caught up in the blame game either. Encourage them to use their learning experiences to help them in their future. This is one area in which you must continually train your team as necessary. Sometimes it's even a good idea to go so far as to bring in motivational speakers to guide your employees here.

Building Your Team

Once you recognize the areas where your team's accountability needs to be built, you should start looking for some ideas to help you with this. With this in mind, here are a few to help you get started:

  • Make sure everyone clearly understands what's expected of them. Vague guidance and job requirements give new employees room to make decisions without any guidance from you. You don't want this to happen so make sure you're explicit in creating goals and assigning responsibilities. Have your employees respond with feedback on these things to make sure that they really understand your message. Only if they're in understanding and agreement with you can you hold them accountable?
  • Make sure you give your employees the tools they need for the job you expect them to complete. Without the right tools, you can't have high expectations of their work. When your employees need new tools, make sure you take time to find ones that are satisfactory to everyone involved.
  • Company leaders must have a clear picture of your organizational structure because this is what your employees mimic. It's important that this culture frowns on half-effort and has clear expectations of what's allowed.
  • When it's time for an employee's annual performance review make sure you don't only praise your employee for their accomplishments, but that you also review ways in which they can improve. This is also another time in which you should remind them of your expectations and hold them accountable. Doing so is tough, but it helps them improve their performance and skills so they can have a better career.
  • While you can't possibly do everything for your employees, you can empower them when they're working on completing a project. Make sure they know you're there if they run into a problem. This allows your employees to prove themselves to you and hopefully surprise you in a great way.
  • Your employees aren't the only ones who need to be held accountable. Don't forget to hold yourself accountable as well. Make sure your behavior, speech, and the way you're supportive of your employees model the same accountability that you need from them.

Accountability is one of those things that simply can't go overlooked in your workplace. So, take some time to assess how well your employees are doing in this regard. If you find areas they need help in, make sure you give it to them. Doing so will truly benefit your entire business.


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