When your workplace has a culture of accountability, everyone wins.
In an accountable workplace, you rely on a teammate to execute on a responsibility, and you are confident that they will come through on it. And then: They do.
As a result, performance improves, morale increases, and team members have better relationships with one another. Items don’t fall through the cracks because everyone takes ownership over those items.
If you’re ready to improve accountability at your workplace, read on.
Who Values Accountability?
In a culture of accountability, individuals, and organizations take their responsibilities seriously.
Although it sounds simple, creating accountability within an organization requires a lot of groundwork that begins with individual team members. Because many people associate the language of accountability with annual reviews, peer reviews, or notes about their performance, some of these team members may want to protect their egos from discussions of accountability.
Others distrust the leaders holding them accountable to their work. According to the Workplace Accountability Study, 82% of the managers surveyed said that they had nearly zero ability to hold others accountable. 91% of employees indicated that their company’s leadership needed to develop the skill of “effectively holding others accountable.” In other words, both employees and employers struggle to create a culture of accountability in the workplace.
Despite the collective apprehension to create a culture of accountability, however, accountability is white space when it comes to improving an organization and your team will only benefit when you make it a priority. Let’s explore why.
Why Accountability in the Workplace Is Important
If your organization is a machine, accountability is the grease that allows each member of your team to reach their highest potential.
Accountability in the workplace can result in:
- Improved relationships
When a team member comes through on a responsibility, you trust them more. A culture of accountability helps people build and place trust in their coworkers and improve their relationships.
- Better time management
A lack of accountability means some employees will make excuses when they miss deadlines. If you hold your team accountable to deadlines, they will learn to better manage their time.
- Less micromanagement
As managers, accountability means you can take a “set it and forget it” approach with management on any project. Your team will know when to come to you for help, since they know you’re invested in their success.
- Better performance results
Undoubtedly, you put a good deal of thought, research, and planning into each project at your firm. Accountability improves efficiency and team performance, creating better results for the company.
Ways to Encourage a Culture of Accountability
Whether you are a manager or a member of a team, you can begin building a culture of accountability in your workplace now. Here’s how to get started.
- Define accountability together.
As a team, you should define what accountability looks like in your organization. In practice, accountability may involve regular check-ins, task tracking, or a designated channel in which members can seek support with their work. You know your team best, so ask them to help you define new best practices for individual and team accountability.
- Set an example of accountability.
Pioneer the accountability effort by setting an example yourself. You can do this by sharing your goals or resolutions with your team and asking them to check in on you. Admit when you’ve slipped up or when you’re struggling and ask for support when you need it.
- Set SMART goals with regular check-ins.
As a team, you should be able to measure each goal you set and assign it a timeframe. If you aren’t setting goals in the SMART format, you’ll likely struggle much more with accountability. Everyone may see the progress toward the goal differently, so it is important that you hold everyone accountable to concrete milestones.
- Give and ask for feedback.
Feedback is one of the best ways you and your team can communicate around individual and team performances. Practice the skill of respectfully giving feedback and teach it to your team. Quarterly feedback sessions can help you and your team adjust your performances to reach your goals and elevate your organization.
The Bottom Line
Accountability in the workplace improves individual and organizational performance and makes your professional life much easier. Rather than constricting you or your team’s freedom, accountability serves as the guardrails on your path to success.
Some teams might need an extra boost when establishing accountability. Enlisting a professional coach can provide your office with this support. Talk to one of our certified team coaches if you’re looking to improve your own culture of accountability (or a career coach if you’re seeking to enhance your own).