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Four steps to promote accountability at the workplace

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

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We know what accountability is, and we now know how it can help us get better results. We have learned about how it can help us achieve improved employee engagement and how the employees can feel empowered to make better decisions. How can we let them improve with effective communication and regular feedback? As we learn better about building an accountable culture at work, we also know how employees can feel more empowered to make the right decisions, build a culture of trust and respect amongst each other, being proactive and responsible towards the ownership of their actions.

Accountability creates a win-win situation for both organization and its employees. In the last blog, we discussed how to improve and maintain workplace accountability. With the help of accountability how employees can feel secure and valued, as the organizations are investing in them with proper training and resources for them to grow. Employees become more committed and responsible toward their performance and learn how it contributes to the company’s performance. So, let us discuss the four steps to promote accountability in the workplace.

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Four steps to promote accountability at the workplace

We can only do it after discussing shifting the mindset to accountable behavior. It will be adapted in the system over time, with lots of trial-and-error methods. But once we establish these four steps, it will become easy for everyone to promote these changes effectively.  

1. State Facts

When we say that, mention clear expectations or set clear goals, or you want some changes in the employee’s behavior or performance. That means you must state facts about the expectations that you have in mind. For example, if you want your employee to be a team player, then instead of saying you need to improve on your team skills, mention the clear points as you accounted for your performance but not as the team’s overall performance or your behavior impacts overall team dynamics. When you say it clearly and make it factual, employees can accept their mistakes and learn from them.

2. Move to "We"

When you are explaining something to your employees, make sure that you shift from “you” to “us.” This way, the employees will also trust you as a manager and can discuss with you openly. If we continue to use “you” and point it out loud, the employees do not feel responsible but feel burdened with completing it. For example, you are discussing the goals with your employee, so if you say we need to sit down and understand how we can achieve this month’s target, the employee will feel more encouraged to achieve goals. Using “we” will allow them to work towards the performance more dedicatedly.

3. Learn to empathize

If you are a strict manager and have created an image that you will not accept failure, then employees will not stay for long. But instead, if you have learned to empathize and show your employees that you understand that there can be wrong decisions or even failure at times, then the employees will learn to accept you as a good manager and accept their mistakes. This way, you will be more approachable, and they will have open discussions with you beforehand and discuss the challenges they are facing.

4. Be firm

When you become more empathetic towards your employees, sometimes they take you for granted. Now, that’s something that you do not wish to create. So, while you empathize with your employees, you learn to stay firm simultaneously. They will know that you mean business and results at the workplace. So, for example, let’s say an employee came to you and discussed the same issue that he faced sometime back, and you said you understand how it can be difficult at times, but at the same, if you say, however, we discussed that if we approach this road map differently then maybe we can achieve it, so what happened to that? Please tell me how we can improve on that. This way, the employee will know he needs to improve in what you have asked him to do.

Final Thoughts

With the help of these four points, managers can create clear standards and expectations in front of their teams. When they are to the point, use “we” or “us,” empathize and still be firm. Then, the employees understand the managers are serious about work and performance. When you discuss the point, the employees can work towards the change you expect them to adapt. When you empathize, and at the same time you remain firm, then they know that they need to be serious about their behavior, actions, and performances. These ways of giving feedback can make it easy for them to accept their mistakes and learn from them. When managers use “we” while talking to their employees, they feel more encouraged towards their tasks and think of being valued in their team. In the future, they will adopt the same qualities as a manager and become a better team player.