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8 Ways to Create a Culture of Accountability

by Bryan Cunningham
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Culture of Accountability

Workplace accountability begins with a sense of ownership that helps teams build trust, eliminate surprises, and form better relationships. When leaders are accountable, they gain respect and boost the bottom line. Read on to learn what happens when there’s no accountability in the workplace and how to move forward.

When No One is Accountable, What Happens?

If there’s no accountability in the workplace, it appears in the form of missed deadlines, employee disengagement, and unfinished projects. A lack of accountability may create: 

  • An absence of trust.
  • Low morale.
  • Subpar performance.
  • Micromanagement.
  • Decreased job satisfaction.
  • High turnover.

Many organizations suffer from accountability gaps—situations where no one knows which steps to take. When employees don’t know what to do, poor behavior, broken promises, and unmet expectations are inevitable. While forcing accountability is never a good idea, there are ways to create it, and we’ll go over a few of them below.

Get a Handle on Performance Issues

Most supervisors and managers must deal with low-performing employees at some point. While no one wants to hear that their work isn’t up to par, it needs to be said in some cases. By getting to the bottom of workers’ performance problems, you can determine whether they’re due to low motivation or insufficient ability. Effective leadership will tell employees what’s expected of them and build a company-wide sense of accountability.

Set Realistic, Attainable Goals

Chief workplace culture scientist Jessica Kriegel believes that benchmarking and goal setting foster accountability, and companies without clear goals typically lack it. When goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, workers understand their responsibilities and what they need to do to fulfill them. 

Assign Deadlines Fairly

Accountability must be structured to be successful. Deadlines should be clear, with regular team-wide reminders as they approach. Before assigning deadlines and setting notifications, solicit workers’ feedback and answer their questions—so they’ll have no reason to shift blame.

Require Professional Development

Trained employees carry out their duties more effectively, and accountable companies give them ample opportunity to grow, develop, and strengthen their skills. Today’s workers value learning opportunities, as they create trust, foster understanding, and eliminate obstacles. When employees undergo continuing education, they become the accountable leaders of tomorrow.

Give Regular Performance Updates

It’s an important step, but many managers skip it: the performance update. Regular follow-up talks with key decision-makers foster accountability by showing employees their work matters.

Provide Quality Feedback

To improve accountability, managers must work on their feedback skills. Practice makes perfect and learning how to give effective feedback—even when it’s difficult—reduces the risk of employee disengagement.

Be Open to Suggestions

It’s not enough to learn how to give feedback; you’ll need to learn how to accept it. Maintaining open, honest communication with employees puts them at ease and lets them know what to expect. When leaders don’t exempt themselves from criticism, employees take their feedback seriously.

Be More Understanding

Employees are subject to certain behavioral expectations, but they often fail to realize how their actions and choices affect others. When leaders are understanding enough to find out why their employees behave as they do, they’ll mitigate accountability issues before they become problematic.

Accountability Starts at the Top

To remain accountable, one must keep their promises not because they should, but because they want to. A real leader can’t force their employees to be more responsible, but they can create conditions that support engagement and accountability. Let the team at Culture Partners define your company’s culture—call today to schedule a consultation with one of our partners.

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