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What Is An Example Of Accountability In The Workplace?

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

Accountability in leadership

In your work experience, you might have worked in an organization that was ridden with broken promises, blame games, missed deadlines, and more. This happens at workplaces that struggle with accountability.

Accountability is the sauce of successful teams. Not only is accountability an essential quality to have at work, but also in life. Accountability is when you accept a hundred percent personal responsibility for your actions and decisions. 

Successful teams and companies can’t thrive without accountability. Accountability in the workplace creates more robust relationships, healthier working spaces, and more productive teamwork. 

Let’s look into how you can promote accountability in the workplace.

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The Accountability advantage book cover

Redefining Accountability

Probably, many of you aren’t accountable as leaders or employees is simply because you haven’t defined it correctly. Accountability isn’t some form of tyranny or autocracy deployed by companies. It is the willingness to take responsibility for that which is expected from you. 

Herny Evans defined the term brilliantly in his book ‘Winning With Accountability.” He writes, “clear commitments that – in the eyes of others – have been kept.” The most critical part to note in this line is “in the eyes of others.” 

When you deploy accountability at your workplace, you not only make clear commitments and but also maintain transparency between other teammates and leaders. 

Let’s see how you can deploy accountability in your work and life.

Examples Of Deploying Accountability

Begin With You

The first place to start accountability is from the self. As a team member, you have to be willing and dedicated to being held accountable by others. Make clear notes on the two commitments essential for you to progress in life and work. 

This principle applies to leaders and managers even more. Employees will be more accountable when they see their leaders being responsible to others. It inspires the team when the top 1% of the organization takes ownership and is transparent about their commitments. 

When you look for ways to be accountable, develop an internal locus of control. They believe they are responsible for their mistakes, broken promises, and actions. People without this internal locus tend to blame others for their setbacks. 

Make Your Expectations Clear

Unclear expectations are another reason why companies struggle with accountability. For example, if you’re a sales manager, and you tell your team member, “meet XYZ target in the best way possible.” 

Something like “meet XYZ target in the best way possible” is a vague expectation. ‘Best way possible’ might mean something entirely different to the person who is expected. This behaviour creates an accountability gap. 

If you’re holding someone accountable for work, be crystal clear of what is expected from them. Saying something like, “I want you to close 30 sales in next three days by 8.00 pm. Let me know if you need help.” 

The most common place to create accountability gaps is during team meetings. Leaders must define action items clearly to the assignee. Not doing so makes the action item unspecific and ambiguous, resulting in unproductive work and irresponsible behaviour. 

Psychological Safety

Many leaders within organizations have the attitude of considering all of the employee’s setbacks as excuses. Leaders need to create a safe space for the employees to talk about their problems. 

Employees feel safe when their leaders take an interest at a personal level in their goals. The respect has to be mutual. 

As a leader, you have to confer trust on your employees. Even if an employee is lying, he will feel bad about lying to your about his actions the second or the third time. When you deploy trust unreasonably, accountability spurts out from the other person. It arouses disgust within an employee to lie and not be accountable. 

Learn more about psychological safety from here.

The Accountability Puzzle

Henry Evans developed an accountability puzzle to create accountable actions and dialogues. 

There are four pieces to the puzzle.

  1. Fill accountability gaps. Accountability gaps fill when you become clear and specific about what action you expect. A simple way to do it is by using the SMARTER framework specific, measurable, attainable, result-oriented, trackable, ethical, and recorded work. 
  2. Be specific about the date and time. Date and times create a sense of urgency in the minds of people. A person without an end date and time is often directionless. 
  3. One owner one task. The best way to deploy accountability is by assigning one task to one owner. 
  4. Be vocal about your commitments. Accountability exists only when two or more people know about your responsibility. When you say your commitments publically, you volunteer to practice accountability. 

Final Words

The only way to create a successful and healthy workspace is by mastering accountability. When you and your team bridge gaps between goals and implementation through accountability, you increase your chances of success and attain better results. 

Start being accountable from today!