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What is accountability in the workplace?

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

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Accountability at work

How can you be accountable at work?

Accountability at work refers to the idea that every employee should take ownership of the work they have given. This means you should to setup and do what’s best for the business. An employee who is accountable will always take responsibility for his or her actions and their outcomes. The employee will not think of this as a responsibility of their management.

Accountability is a crucial part of efficiency in the workplace. If employees are held accountable for their lack of punctuality and their lazy and irresponsible behaviour, it helps ensure that efficiency is also maximised and complements the efforts of other disciplined employees.

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Why Do We Need Accountability?

There are numerous benefits when accountability is being implemented, four of the most crucial benefits are:

Accelerate Performance

Accountability evokes a sense of concern about your workflow. This also makes you more attentive to the smaller details of your assignment/s, whatever they may be. Due to extended attention you put into a task, your end result is perfect – something you feel confident in. Your confidence in your plan, or strategy, can easily be the deciding factor to overcome any obstacle. Solve every problem and complete your job with the best outcome.

Sets up for Milestones

Accountability helps you understand your ability. It helps you track how close you are to reaching your goals, and allows you to keep track of the steps you must take before becoming stronger in a field while setting milestones for the future.

Accountability enables you to define what success feels like and set milestones to measure your progress along the way. You gradually step up to perfection.

Makes You Consistent

When you start doing something, many distractions steal your focus from achieving your initial goal. Many people fall for these temptations, ultimately losing sight of their goals and going astray from their primary objectives. Accountability will hold your hand, and prevent you from giving in to these temptations.

Keeps You Happy

When you are on the road to success, every milestone brings you happiness along with a sense of accomplishment. You feel as though a weight has been lifted from your back. You feel stronger and valorous. This makes your future experiences even richer and more pleasant.

How to Improve Accountability?

First of all, as a leader, it’s your job to understand what makes each of your employees motivated enough to complete a job with efficiency. Every employee has a distinct drive. They are motivated in different ways. One way may work for one employee while being completely useless for another.

It’s your job to find out what maximises the motivation for each of your employees, then use this information to position them for success. Some effective ways to improve accountability include:

Setting Expectations

Setting your expectations is crucial to measure performance and to also hold your employees accountable. When you set an expectation, they work towards reaching and overcoming it. People are always motivated by a challenge. Therefore, it’s a psychological way to set up a challenge which creates a window for motivation to jump in and also overcome a set target.

Provide Performance Feedback

It’s very important to provide your employee with actionable and regular feedback – both positive and negative. Positive feedback creates a sense of accomplishment in the employee and further improves their ability so they work harder to achieve their goals.

The constant contact they have with their superiors will strengthen their sense of being valued within the workplace. Factors like timeliness, attendance, day-off requests and efficiency at work should be used in the flow of performance feedback.

Establish a culture of trust

By establishing freedom at work, you can improve workplace efficiency and also accountability. This applies majorly on the present generation of work force. A survey concluded that the present generation of millennials feels more motivated to work when they are empowered to control and set up their own schedules of work. Also, allowing your employees authority over their work schedule is the first and initial step in having them take ownership of their work.

How to Enforce Accountability?

Strong Management

Strong management is also the base of every good company that achieves sustainable success. Management is responsible for keeping the employees in check but not through punitive measure but instilling trust and confidence into the workforce. Furthermore, if the management is strong, then employees will automatically hold themselves accountable for their actions.

Revise KPIs to Include Accountability

KPI stands for a key performance indicator. They are the quantifiable measures that a company uses to track the performance of each and every employee overtime. Accountability should also be a part of the company’s approach to KPIs as it’s just as important as every other indicator, like lagging and leading indicators, profit and loss indicators, etc.

Accountability should also be absolute. Every employee should know that they must perform to their maximum capacity to further drive the company growth. Therefore, by enforcing KPIs that include accountability, you can boost performance at the smallest level.

Take Responsibility for the Outcome

Accepting responsibility is realising your own behaviour and consequences of that behaviour on the company. If an employee doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions or failures, it will be difficult for them to develop self-respect and even respect for others.

Finally, accepting responsibility involves moving beyond your self-interest and also taking action for the greater good of the company. Therefore, it’s very important to set up behaviour which welcomes accountability rather than one that repels it.