You know it’s important to hold your subordinates accountable to their commitments, but how do you practice accountability in a constructive, productive way?
To begin practicing accountability with your subordinates, you must make your expectations for them clear. Both the rewards and consequences for meeting or not meeting expectations must be clear and measurable. It’s also important that you put mistakes in their proper context. You should use most mistakes as learning experiences rather than opportunities for reprimand.
As a leader, practicing proper subordinate accountability is one of the most effective ways you can show support for your team. To help you and your team develop a healthy relationship around subordinate accountability, here are five principles.
5 Principles of Subordinate Accountability
- Mindful Commitments
All team members should be extremely mindful of every commitment/agreement they make, both within the firm and outside it. They should understand that they will be held accountable for each commitment they make.
Encourage a culture in which team members make agreements thoughtfully and keep them faithfully. Sometimes remaining faithful to your commitments will mean team members have to say no to opportunities. You cannot give your all to every opportunity, so when you over-commit yourself, it just leads to mediocre work across the board. When subordinates feel like they need to prove their worth, they may over-commit themselves or say yes to too many things, which only backfires.
Every person on your team should understand this relationship between over-commitment and mediocrity. Make it clear to your team that you value thorough and well-done work on priority tasks rather than the mediocre work they might produce if over-committed to a million different things.
- Voluntary Commitments
In a corporate culture with high standards, members may actually volunteer to be held (publicly) accountable for their commitments. They understand that this mindset moves the firm forward in a much more successful way.
Set this example as a leader by making sure your team knows they can hold you accountable for your performance. Request feedback and actually implement what you’ve learned.
By volunteering to be held accountable, you set the standard for your team. It encourages an environment of growth across the board.
Make it clear to your subordinates that there are consequences (both positive and negative) for the successful or unsuccessful fulfillment of their commitments. Consequences aren’t just an item on a checklist you have to attend to. They are absolutely critical to your team’s success.
While negative consequences are important for high performance in the workplace, they mainly prevent people from doing the bare minimum to get by.
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Positive consequences produce much more dramatic results. These consequences are undoubtedly the best motivators for teams. Helping teams understand the correlation between their effort and the results is a great way to drive outstanding performance.
Some examples of positive consequences tied to performance are:
- Career Opportunities
- Additional Perks
Remember that consequences are motivators. They are necessary for your team to thrive.
Track, in writing, every agreement that every team member makes in every meeting and share them with the team. Begin each committee meeting by following up on the assignments due that day for that committee. You should also track commitments and due dates on detailed project plans for accountability and completion.
You’ll likely find that your employees appreciate this type of tracking for projects and due dates. By regularly checking in, they are given an opportunity to seek out support or ask questions. They won’t be responsible for setting their timelines and will have complete clarity on project deadlines.
Make sure that you and your team have the same level of clarity around work. At Arootah, we regularly ask teammates the following three questions:
- What, specifically, is the deliverable?
- Who, specifically, is responsible for delivering it?
- When, specifically, will it be delivered?
By simply adding the word “specifically” to this question, we ask our team to think about their deliverables with specificity. This is a simple and extremely powerful set of questions for organizations because it challenges employees to deepen their understanding of the task at hand. This makes their path to accomplishment clear and easy to follow.
Accountability Strengthens Culture
This type of subordinate accountability can strengthen your culture of integrity, trust, and high performance. It shifts the focus from individual priorities to the overall good of the organization.
In a culture that prioritizes accountability and trust, innovation and initiative usually follow. The team is more equipped to solve problems, achieve goals, and learn while on the job.
The Bottom Line
As a leader, practicing proper subordinate accountability is one of the most effective ways you can show support for your team. By approaching it correctly, accountability is a positive force that improves satisfaction in the workplace and drives your company’s goals forward. It shows your employees that you value and respect their work.
To learn more about workplace tips to help your employees feel supported and valued, download a copy of our free eBook, The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula.
Did you find these tips useful for your organization? Let us know in the comments!