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4 steps to create accountability in the workplace

Is accountability a stinky turd that should be avoided at all costs? When speaking with people about improving accountability there are often two distinct reactions. For those in leadership positions, they are usually all for it, but those in front line positions often see accountability as a real negative.

The front line positions have sometimes been ‘held accountable’ against something they were unaware they were being held accountable to. Unfortunately this is a punishment approach that has led to a bad name for accountability.

The reality is most people want to be accountable as it goes towards their own personal reputation as being someone others can depend on to do a professional job. Just like in a sports team, each person has a position they are responsible for and everyone else on the team is depending on them to do that role.

Ironically when people make the decision to ‘be accountable’, there is no need to ‘hold them accountable’ because they take care of that themselves.

There are some simple ground rules to help foster this type of culture from the ground up:

  1. Set clear expectations up front, especially around the results to be achieved and not so much the steps to achieve the results.
  2. Obtain agreement on a realistic completion date from both the person giving the task and the person doing the task.
  3. Communicate regularly in both directions, specifically any changes to the expected outcomes or ability to complete on time.
  4. If things do go off the rails, always start with ‘me’. Apologise and offer up what you could have done differently to have kept things on track.

A culture of accountability in the workplace is a seed for many other benefits — trust, mutual respect, motivation, engagement and ultimately higher performance.

Please share if you would like to see more accountability and happiness in the workplace.