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How accountable are you?

How to Improve Accountability?

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

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How to Improve Accountability

Improving Your Accountability

Imagine for a moment, you and your team have been working on a presentation for a very important client for the past few weeks. However, you did not manage to secure the deal as your presentation failed to meet the client’s goals and objectives.

Now, you ask your team to have a conversation and look for solutions. There can be two scenarios.

First, your team members would start blaming the other and do not take accountability for the result. Second, each team member recognized their role in the project and understood where the contribution was low.

What would you prefer? The second scenario, right? The second scenario is a perfect example of accountability. Accountability is directly connected with an increase in commitment among employee morale and work, resulting in high performance.

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But, What Exactly is Accountability?

The simple and short definition for Accountability is when any person or employee takes full responsibility for their decisions and actions without any incentive, prompting, or pleading.

Accountability is when someone is willing to recognize their mistakes in various situations instead of pointing fingers at others. Accountability might seem a negative term for many as if they are guilty of some big crime. However, people need to understand the term has both negative and positive connotations.

It is about how you fulfil your responsibility and understand what expectations other people have from you. So, Accountability is to be accountable to yourself.

Roadblocks to Accountability

Why Accountability lacks in workplaces? What are the barriers that hold people to work towards accountability? If you know such barriers and roadblocks and find yourself in such positions, it’s an indication that you lack accountability

Fear of Failure

Studies show that fear of failure or mistake is among the biggest obstacles employees and managers face in U.S. companies. Thus, it stops people from taking responsibility for their actions at work.

Many organizations takes strict measures against such employees who are less likely to take charge of being accountable for their mistakes.

Unclear Expectations

Not all the employees at work know what the organization expect from their work. That’s a frightening moment for an employee who makes a mistake, unknowing what’s expected of them.

Lack of clear expectations might give an employee independence and autonomy. However, it can also sabotage the opportunity to take leadership roles.

Lack of Engagement

Most companies lack employee engagement. If this scenario continues in a similar manner, about half of your team will become disengaged in no time.

So, you need to improve the accountability in your team but also want your employees to be responsible for their duties. Also, you should make your employees heard and valued in other situations as well.

The reality is quite the opposite as employees believe the companies do not pay attention to their suggestions to improve the business. With this mindset, employee engagement is bound to decrease and make them less likely to take any ownership roles.  

Making Accountability as a Core Value and Part of Your Business

As important as accountability is, even more challenging is to find strategies to overcome the roadblocks. But, your challenge ends here as we have few strategies to help you improve your accountability as well as your employees.

Holding Yourself Accountable First

Employees will follow their leader in every circumstance. Being a leader, what you do set an example for the employees to follow. So, you cannot only hold your team accountable, but you need to lead an example and hold yourself accountable.

Here is how you can improve your accountability at the workplace:

  • Completion of tasks before the given timeline.
  • While scheduling a meeting, show up early and prepared to indicate that you value everyone’s time.
  • Support your team and take part in the success.

Providing Necessary Feedback

How can you help your employees in improving their performance at work? You can do so by providing them with clear and timely feedback. The employees won’t acknowledge when they don’t have an insight into areas where they need to improve.

During your feedback conversations, you can discuss things such as:

  • Roadblocks and challenges they are facing
  • Progress and goals
  • Success and failures

Using an Accountability Framework

The Accountability framework will enable employees to understand what the organization expects from their work. It will make sure that each individual will have a significant role to play and work upon in any project.

The role can be divided into 4 levels of accountability:

  • Informed: The employee will notify the team of day-to-day progress in the project.
  • Consulted: The employees are subject-matter expert and deal with advising and consulting specific issues related to the project.
  • Accountable: The employee will take full accountability for completing and delivering the project.
  • Responsible: The employee will be responsible for completing assigned tasks on time.

Setting SMART Goals

By setting SMART goals, you can foster accountability in your workplace more efficiently. The SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

You can engage your team members in the process of goal settings for both team and personal. This way, you can allow them to engage and also make them understand the purpose of accountability.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating an Accountability culture among your team will improve the productivity and morale of the employees. Also, it will nurture them with a sense of leadership and autonomy to help them grow in their respective careers.