Everyone wins when a culture of workplace accountability is implemented properly. Staff are able to take control of their work, there are clear lines of report, and managers can trust their employees to work without constant oversight. A culture of positive accountability also has a positive impact on morale and commitment. That's because you're trusting and empowering your staff to perform their roles at a high level, rather than trying to take the old-school top-down punitive approach.
Here's what to know about fostering employee accountability in your workplace.
Why Accountability Matters
Accountability is about owning your responsibilities and following through on your duties and promises. When employees aren't held accountable for their actions, the effects ripple through the whole company. Deadlines get missed, other employees are unable to fulfill their own responsibilities, and resentment can start to build. Over time, this can snowball into disengagement, high turnover, low levels of trust, and a major impact on your bottom line.
Building a culture of accountability, on the other hand, helps everyone do their work, deliver on their promises, and keep teams working well together.
Step One: Clarify Job Roles
Job descriptions shouldn't just be a boilerplate copy you paste in to help wanted ads. They should clearly outline someone's core role, daily tasks, responsibilities, and reports. Employees should have access to them, so they know exactly what their job is meant to entail and in what instances the buck stops with them. Interview your staff about their role, and use these interviews to help define clear job roles for each person. Make these available company-wide so that employees can easily see who is responsible for what, as well as what kinds of jobs are available to them as they progress through the company. (Try using a RACI framework to help with this.)
Step Two: Start Defining Goals
Creating goals for each employee helps them understand what kind of performance is expected of them. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). Every goal should have a performance metric attached to it so that your employees can easily tell if they're helping to meet their own personal goals, as well as the organization's larger ones. Ensure that each employee has their own goals to meet and that they're aligned with what the organization is trying to achieve.
Step Three: Communicate Progress
Don't keep employees in the dark about their work until their annual performance review. The more information they receive along the way, the more easily they can course-correct if needed. Feedback leads to improvement, so make it available wherever possible. Feedback should be fair, timely, and clearly communicated. If possible, provide employees with resources or mechanisms to actually make the changes they need to, as sometimes they might not know what to do with the feedback they receive. And always celebrate the wins!
Step Four: Make it About Improvement, Not Punishment
People dread accountability when they associate it with punishment. And the consequences can be dire: people point fingers or try to hide their mistakes. But in workplaces where personal and organizational improvement is the goal, it's okay to fall short, just so long as you're heading in the right direction. Be patient with employees and try to see their contributions beyond the single assignment or task. Finally, if mistakes are happening or balls are being dropped, look higher up. Are your employees getting all the support, resources, and training they need?
Employee Accountability Begins With You
By defining roles, communicating progress, and creating a culture of improvement, you make it easier for people to be accountable. Not only that, when you give people metrics, feedback, and frameworks for growth, you encourage them to grow as individuals, which is great for their engagement and job satisfaction.
Are you trying to implement or improve your culture of accountability? StellaPop can help build an accountability framework that will drive performance and responsibility alike. To get started, get in touch!