7 Ways To Improve Accountability In The Workplace

How to improve accountability in the workplace

Imagine for a moment that your business has just completed a big project, but it came out all wrong. It’s not the way you wanted it, the client isn’t happy, and now it’s up to you to figure out how to move on from here. Would you prefer a meeting where everybody is pointing fingers, blaming all kinds of things for what went wrong? Or would you rather see your employees stepping up and honestly accepting their mistakes, so you can track the missteps and figure out how to do better next time? That second meeting is an example of a team with great accountability. When you and your employees can hold one another accountable, it allows you to keep your team productive and successful, as well as giving you the opportunity to figure out why things went wrong when they do. But how do you get to that point?

Here are a few tips on how to promote accountability in your workplace culture.

Ways To Improve Accountability In The Workplace

Set Clear Responsibilities

One big problem you should try to avoid is giving your team unclear responsibilities. This one should probably be obvious, but it turns out that it’s hard to hold people accountable if they don’t even know what’s expected of them. This is part of why communication in the office is so important. Recent polls from Gallup suggest that only half of all employees feel like they know what’s expected of them at work. You need to make sure that your workers know what they’re supposed to be doing before you can start holding them accountable for their work.

Avoid Overly Harsh Punishment

It’s extremely important to make sure your employees aren’t afraid to be held accountable. After all, how can you expect anyone to speak up about their own failures when they know they’re going to be harshly punished for it? The fear of being held responsible for failure is a huge roadblock for accountability. If your workers are afraid of the consequences of failure, they’re not going to try new things, offer up ideas, or take responsibility for their actions. Make sure you’re creating a workplace culture where employees are encouraged to take risks and accept their failures, so long as you’re not giving them too much leeway.

Take Responsibility Yourself

One of the best ways to promote accountability is to start at the top, with yourself! Keep in mind, your employees aren’t the only ones who sometimes make mistakes. If you’re going to make them accountable for their work, you need to start by doing the same for yourself. Be open about your mistakes with your team, and talk about the steps you’re taking to avoid making them again. Make sure they know that it’s okay to fail as long as you take responsibility and try to improve from it. Not only will this help promote a culture of accountability, but it can also make you more approachable to your staff.

Take Note Of Progress

Accountability and responsibility don’t only apply to failures. It’s important to highlight the positive progress being made by your team as well as the mistakes. This helps them feel like they’re connected to the work they’re doing and encourages them to take more personal responsibility for it. It’s a lot easier for someone to admit a mistake and try to fix it when they have a genuine investment in their work, and praising them for their progress is a great way to promote that. As an added bonus, increased engagement by your employees can also lead to increased productivity.

Provide The Necessary Resources

Sometimes when an employee says it’s not their fault they failed, it’s 100% true. Your team can perform their work flawlessly and still end up not succeeding in their goals if they didn’t have the proper support from above. This is part of a similar point above regarding holding yourself accountable as well. Make sure that your team has all the equipment and information that they need, and make a point of checking infrequently in case their requirements change. Part of promoting a culture of accountability is understanding that sometimes it’s really not their fault, so it’s up to you to give your team everything they need to succeed. If you’ve done that, the only thing left is a personal responsibility.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Difficult Conversations

Even if you’ve created a culture where your employees are willing to take responsibility for their failures, they still might not always know when their work hasn’t been up to snuff. If you notice an underperforming worker, you need to be willing to have a talk with them about it. It’s important to catch these issues as early as you can, so you can fix them before they become real problems. Be direct with your employees, and let them know what it is they need to be doing differently. How to handle each individual worker is going to be something you’ll have to figure out yourself, based on your knowledge of them and your leadership skills. Keep in mind that even though it’s important to be direct with your employees, that doesn’t mean you should be too hard on them. Everyone makes mistakes, and they may not even know what it is they’re doing wrong.

Assess Your Team

Once you’ve started to create a workplace environment based on accountability, you can take a look at your team and see what it is you need to do to help them succeed in the future. Remember, it’s important to keep learning all through our lives. In addition to providing your employees with all the resources they need, you may want to bring in motivational speakers to help them unlock their potential. Every mistake is a possible teachable moment, so instead of punishing your team for every failure, try to encourage them to keep improving.

With these tips, you should be well on your way towards creating a new workplace culture based on accountability. When your team feels comfortable taking responsibility for their actions, your job becomes so much easier. An accountable team is a productive team, so use this information to unlock the potential in your employees and make them a well-oiled machine.

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Article Author Details

Lynda Arbon