Accountability is a measure of people’s ability to take responsibility for their actions. Accountability in the workplace is, generally, viewed in a negative light because leaders mandate responsibility from top to bottom. The top-down method creates distrust between employees and leaders and often leads to discouragement instead of the opposite.
Every so often, the typical methods of accountability in the workplace lead to fierce office politics and blame games. To dispel the negative implications of accountability, companies must inculcate a healthy culture of the same in the organization.
Accountability in the workplace creates a healthy environment for employees and boosts their morale. It fosters a sense of responsibility in the employees so that they know that they are answerable for their actions, decisions, behavior, and performance.
A healthy and positive culture of accountability in the workplace is akin to employee retention and an increase in employees’ productivity and morale.
Accountability In Workplace
Accountability in the workplace ensures that all the employees are aware of the tasks they have to undertake and complete and are also conscious of the consequences of their actions.
An important point to note is that accountability is not about shifting the blame but owning your actions, solving the issues, and learning from the experience. Accountability is useless unless it leads to learning and improvement.
Accountability leads to betterment in performance and an overall increase in employees’ morale. And that’s a no-brainer but even then, surveys have shown that around 40% of employees working in US organizations are not held accountable for their actions.
Developing a culture of accountability in the workplace means that employees work together to find solutions to problems, deliver efficient results and hold each other liable. The effects of the method are, eventually, reflected in their performance.
Accountable workplace culture encourages growth and development. These workplaces are more efficient and foster a close-knit bond that links all the people together.
Accountability in the workplace is about recognizing your responsibility and accomplishing your tasks. An accountable employee is careful about his actions and how they impact his team members. He keeps his team updated about the status of his work progress so that there are no hiccups in the process later.
It’s also about doing what is best for business, that is prioritizing organizational goals over personal goals. Moreover, it’s about assuming responsibility and not shifting the blame whenever a problem arises.
Employees build a bond of trust and reliability with the top management when they unswervingly demonstrate a sense of responsibility and ownership. It is worth mentioning that leaders should also partake in vowing responsibility since their actions are directly linked to that of their employees.
What Are The Benefits Of Accountability Culture In Workplace?
Before we move on to the guidelines for creating a healthy accountability culture in the workplace, let us take a look at the benefits of such a culture. It:
- Builds trust
- Improves performance
- Promotes ownership
- Increases employees’ confidence
- Increases employee participation
- This leads to better commitment
- Creates more opportunities for creativity and innovation
- Increases employee satisfaction and retention
- Encourages competency among employees
What Are The Consequences Of The Lack Of Accountability In An Organization’s Workplace?
Up till now, we have learned the benefits of the practice, but what if companies refuse to adopt accountability practices? What is the impact of lack of accountability and ownership?
When employees refuse to take responsibility for their actions, the results impact the whole team and not just one person. The lack of such culture results in:
- Unaccomplished goals
- Vague priorities
- Lack of trust/mistrust
- Lower levels of engagement
- Lower morale of the team
- High turnover
- Missed deadlines
A single member failing to keep up with his commitment can disrupt the working of the whole group. His irresponsibility creates frustration among the other team members, leading to mistrust and disengagement. That is why promoting accountability in the workplace is imperative for better working.
How To Inculcate A Culture Of Responsibility In Your Workplace?
Leaders often choose not to hold employees accountable because they are either afraid of making them feel uncomfortable, they undermine the usefulness of the practice or they are simply forgetful. But with the following steps in place, improvements are just a matter of time.
1. Change Begins At Home
Before you encourage accountability, make sure that as a leader you are not afraid to accept your mistakes, lead by example. In this aspect, you are the trendsetter.
Make sure that the rules are the same from top to bottom. whether you are a corporate member or an ordinary employee, an experienced member or an intern, the same rules should be disseminated across the whole organization. Applying the same standards throughout the workplace creates a positive culture of accountability.
When a leader accepts his mistakes and resolves to rectify the issue, he indirectly encourages his team members to do the same. Rather than throwing the blame at your subordinate, own your mistakes to promote the same in your employees.
If you fail to keep up with your team or are constantly pushing back work, your team members will also follow, ultimately leading to complete and utter chaos in the work progress.
To reflect your willingness to take responsibility and be held accountable you can:
- Complete your tasks on time
- Accept the responsibility for your team’s success or failure
- Support your team in their work
- Be punctual
- Keep your team updated about the progress of a project
- Be honest and open
2. Clearly Define Goals And Expectations
To make sure that there are no hiccups in the process, clearly define the goals and expectations beforehand. Make sure that all employees understand the organizational goals and the expected results. This will help them align their goals in parallel and will eventually lead to better results for both.
Once employees are aware of the big picture, they can work to improve their work progress and also, implement innovative strategies for quick and efficient working.
A healthy culture of accountability does not define rigid boundaries but gives employees the freedom to bring their creativity and imagination into play.
Also, employees can set individual goals to accomplish tasks under their responsibility. The gradual completion of each task will take them one step closer to the accomplishment of organizational goals.
While you are at it, make sure that the set goals are attainable. Far-fetched, unachievable goals will only lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
To do so, you can:
- Communicate the team’s mission and vision for the project
- Relate the importance of the task assigned
- Clarify standard procedure for the work progress i.e. deadlines, end results, etc.
- Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member
The clearer the goals and expectations are, the higher the probability for success will be.
3. Provide Timely Feedback
Your employees will not be able to identify their mistakes until you point them out for them. In this respect, providing timely feedback is absolutely necessary.
Your feedback will help them better their performance for the future. Your timely feedback will ensure will be proof that you pay attention to employees’ work and are not disengaged from the work progress.
Feedback is a learning experience for the employees so it does not matter if the feedback is positive or negative. Positive feedback will elevate their confidence and inspire them to do even better next time. Negative feedback, on the other hand, will also help employees reflect on their mistakes and make amendments for the future.
It, in fact, has been seen that consistent feedback leads to 14.9% lower turnover in companies that implement the practice. It has also been noted that 4 out of 10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback. Hence, feedback is an integral part of work progress.
Your feedback should:
- Focus on the work, not the person
- Propose effective methods to remedy mistakes or issues
- Not harass or disrespect the employee
We would also like to point out that whenever you review the work of one of your team members, highlight the positives along with the negatives. Praise your employee for the positives and help them improve the negatives. This practice will lead to better communication and collaboration in the future.
Last but not the least, provide the feedback as soon as possible. Delaying or procrastinating in this aspect will lead to more issues in the future so it’s better if you prioritize feedback.
4. Make Accountability A Core Value Of Your Workplace
You cannot possibly jump up and start a tirade in the middle of your office. So, how can you make accountability a core part of your workplace without disrupting regular work? Simple – schedule meetings and one-on-one sessions – using nTask’s Meeting management module.
Organize a team meeting where all the team members gather and discuss the important points of a project. Constant meetings and follow-up sessions will imbibe a sense of accountability in the employees and will help better their performance in the future.
To induct the practice in the core values of your workplace:
- Have discussions about accountability and its implications with your team members
- Encourage your team members to contribute their ideas
- Clarify what accountability means for your team
- Help them understand how they can implement it in their daily routine
- Coach employees on how to be accountable
5. Keep An Eye On The Commitments And Review The Results
Accountability is a two-way process, while your employees are responsible for the completion of their tasks, you also have to make sure to keep track of their progress.
If an employee has committed to complete a task on a specific date, check-in on the employee’s progress on that date. To make sure that each employee is keeping up with the team, you can delegate tasks to your team members with specific deadlines, start date, end date, and priority status – all of which can be done using nTask’s task management module.
This way, you will not only be able to keep track of your employee’s performance but will also be able to provide feedback, chat with the employee, share files and do much more.
A culture of accountability in the workplace is one where everyone holds each other responsible for their actions. An employee’s actions are not limited to him alone but affect the team and the organization at large. Since actions have far-reaching effects, everyone must make sure that their team members are not lagging.
6. Rewards and Punishments
When talking about accountability in the workplace, we have to include rewards and punishments in the discussion. The sole purpose of accountability is improvement and you cannot do that without rewards and punishments.
Employees will not change their ways unless they are encouraged with rewards or scared with punishments. If you fail to take suitable action, your employees will regard accountability as a hoax and will not improve their performance.
Rewards can be in the form of an incentive, a pat on the back, or a few words of encouragement. In contrast, you can punish employees by taking away their incentives or chastising them alone verbally but please make sure that you do not disrespect them in any way and only criticize their work, no personal attacks.
Accountability in the workplace leads to lower employee turnover, more efficient functioning, better performances, enhanced communication, and better productivity. It will create a positive space where everyone learns and grows from their mistakes. If you haven’t already adopted the culture of accountability in your workspace then it is time that you do that now!