What Can Business Leaders do to Improve Workplace Accountability?

The term accountability can make people uncomfortable, as it can stir up memories of past mistakes and consequences. In a business setting, employee accountability is vital to completing projects and achieving company goals. However, it can be challenging to keep employers and employees on the same page. Keep reading to find out how other business leaders build workplace accountability.

Thomas Hawkins

Thomas Hawkins

Thomas Hawkins, Executive Leader at Electrician Apprentice HQ.

3 Tips for Improving Employee Accountability

1. Be More Accountable Yourself
One of the best ways to improve workplace accountability is to be more accountable yourself. Admit your own mistakes when they occur and use your team to find [solutions]. Hold yourself to the same high standards that you have hopefully set for your team and be honest about your shortcomings.

2. Get Staff Feedback for Goals
You’ll have a hard time improving accountability in your organization if your team doesn’t believe in the goals that have been set. Therefore, involve them in the process. This serves a two-fold purpose. They’ll have a say in what’s expected of them, and they’ll be much more motivated to achieve their goals because they had a hand in creating them.

3. Be Crystal Clear in Communications
If your employees do not know what is expected of them, how can you hold them accountable? They need to know exactly what they need to do, how they need to do it, in certain instances, and by when. Be overly clear in your communication, and your chances for higher accountability go up tremendously.

Encouraging Accountability

Ensure that Leadership is Accountable for their Own Mistakes
It’s impossible to expect your employees to be held to a standard that doesn’t apply to leadership. Ensuring that leaders are accountable to employees is a primary element of quality workplace accountability. Additionally, increased transparency about mistakes will promote a culture of trust, togetherness, and respect amongst employees and employers alike.

Quickly Identify Issues and Potential Solutions
Companies that let issues run rampant without quick and decisive action are unlikely to create a culture of accountability. Leaders should confront problems as soon as they have been identified and carefully considered. Provide employees with solutions as to how to improve their performance, behavior, or approach to work. It’s important to provide employees with the ability to improve going forward, allowing them to dictate their future and ensuring that they are accountable for the result.

Learn to Give Constructive Feedback Often
A lot of businesses struggle to provide constructive feedback instead of coming across as either too soft or too heavy-handed when critiquing performance. Creating a working environment in which feedback, both positive and negative, frequently provided, will foster a culture of accountability.

Teresha Aird

Teresha Aird

Teresha Aird is the Co-Founder and CMO at Offices.net, an online brokerage that works to connect businesses and freelancers with a variety of workspace solutions across the United States.

Gregory Herrman

Gregory Herrman

Gregory Herrman, Managing Partner, Herrman and Herrman PLLC.

Set Reasonable Expectations

Holding team members accountable starts with setting reasonable expectations. Setting expectations when hiring a team member and staying consistent with those expectations are vital to maintaining accountability. Providing regular feedback on what team members are doing well and what may need improvement helps empower team members and build trust between the team and leadership. Finally, communicating rewards for achieving expectations and consequences of failing to meet them is the last piece to improving workplace accountability.

Leaders Should Set the Example

When a company aims to improve workplace accountability, the change needs to start at the top. You can’t expect employees to start taking responsibility for their duties and owning up to their mistakes if leadership isn’t doing the same.

My advice would be for management to meet and discuss ways to be deliberate about demonstrating accountability. These can include acknowledging errors that impact employees, setting clear demarcations of the tasks you’re taking on, and finishing what you’ve started. If you’re constantly disorganized and forgetting what’s on your plate each day, it subtly signals to employees that they can do the same.

On a related note, leaders in a company should seek feedback both from their superiors and one another. You can’t just assume that because you have a certain role in the company, you aren’t capable of improving.

Ravi Parikh

Ravi Parikh

Ravi Parikh, CEO, RoverPass Texas Campgrounds.

Brian Donovan

Brian Donovan

Brian Donovan, CEO of Timeshatter.

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Executive leaders need to hold themselves accountable – openly. Not only will they lead by example in practicing accountability, but they will create an open dialogue about the topic and prevent employees from being afraid of any repercussions due to their openness.

Workplace expectations should be clear. It is much easier for employees to remain personally accountable if they know exactly what they are to remain accountable for.

Set goals with your employees. Utilize one-on-ones to form a mutual understanding of expectations and create personalized goals with them that you can track together.

Involve Employees in Setting Goals

Companies can improve workplace accountability by involving employees in the goal-setting process. This inclusion gives employees ownership over the goals, and they are more likely to follow through on their part to achieve these goals. Following through on responsibilities creates a culture of accountability across the entire organization. Hence, it is paramount that every goal set has the buy-in of your employees.

Greg Rozdeba

Greg Rozdeba

Greg Rozdeba, President of Dundas Life.

Lindsey Allard

Lindsey Allard

Lindsey Allard is the CEO of PlaybookUX, a video-based user feedback software.

Visibility Creates Accountability

We’ve kept our employees extremely close and try to keep everything going on within the company out in the open for everyone to see. Every employee can see the other’s to-do list. We encourage employees to share successes and challenges and have everyone join our update calls.

If an employee is consistently missing the mark, it will be out in the open. Also, if an employee is consistently very successful, then it will also be known by everyone in the company.

Keep everything out in the open, so each employee has to take credit for what they are doing – the good and the bad.

Consistent Communication

When it comes to workplace accountability, communication is key. If you can set the expectations for new employees from the beginning, it will ensure they are more likely to be successful in the long run. It’s also important to consistently meet with employees to communicate ongoing expectations as projects and job responsibilities evolve.

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith, Founder of Disco.

Andre Kazimierski

Andre Kazimierski

Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy.

3 Ways to Improve Workplace Accountability

1. Set clear goals for employees to follow and strive toward.
This will avoid a disconnect in understanding what the expectations are and will correct employee focus.

2. If employees are falling short on responsibilities or expectations, figure out why.
There may be a hidden obstacle in the way that needs to be removed, so assess the situation before making assumptions.

3. Create an environment where feedback is openly encouraged.
This doesn’t just mean management giving employees feedback. Employees should also be encouraged to provide feedback on their leaders. It creates group accountability and encourages communication.

Establish Clear Task Delegation and Open Communication

Improving workplace accountability first requires that businesses be organized and transparent in regard to delegating tasks. Accountability is 50% workers taking ownership of their work and 50% businesses making it clear who is in charge of what. If your business lacks a cohesive system for determining who will take on assignments, then it becomes very easy for workers to avoid taking responsibility when something doesn’t get done.

Good communication is also necessary. Give workers the ability and space to provide regular updates on an assignment. Workplaces in which people are intimidated to communicate with their bosses simply can’t foster a culture of accountability. Drill it into people that if they feel as if they’re overcommunicating, they are probably communicating an appropriate amount.

Daivat Dholakia

Daivat Dholakia

Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations of Force by Mojio.

Chris Muktar

Chris Muktar

Chris Muktar, Founder of WikiJob.co.uk.

Best Practices to Workplace Accountability

Accountability in the workplace is crucial to the success of your employees and the business, regardless of the organization or industry. As a business owner, I take accountability with my roles to be an example to my employees.

To improve workplace accountability:

  1. Provide your employees with feedback. It’s critical to deliver frequent, actionable insights to your employees, both positive and negative.
  2. Give your employees influence over their schedule. It is a small but effective method to improve their accountability and development.
  3. Set clear employee expectations, as well as how you respond when your team exceeds or fails to reach those objectives.

2 Ways to Improve Accountability in the Workplace

Workplace accountability is essential to businesses because it teaches everyone how to own up to their responsibility. In our company, we ensure that everyone, whether in executive or entry level positions, the team knows their responsibilities and is accountable for them.

Here’s what we do to [improve accountability]:

1. Designate tasks with names.
This avoids excuses when there are errors. If everyone knows whose job is involved, they can no longer deny what they have done. Thus, they will admit their faults readily.

2. Avoid the blame game.
We are professionals, and we work as one. When someone isn’t able to give good results, we investigate (as a group) what went wrong instead of blaming them. In this way, employees will not feel ashamed to admit their wrongdoings, which helps them accept accountability for their actions.

Martin Seeley

Martin Seeley

Martin Seeley, Chief Executive Officer at MattressNextDay.

Dr. Austin Dowse

Dr. Austin Dowse

Dr. Austin Dowse, CEO of Aimvein. Dr. Austin is a neuroscientist with over 25 years of experience in the field of neuroscience.

Practice A Culture of Open Communication

First, I’d say to remember that at the heart of any accountability is trust. Create a culture of open communication, so all employees feel like they can be honest without fear of retribution. Keep the lines of communication open, and don’t let fear stop you from speaking up when something doesn’t seem right.

With the advent of social media, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are transparent in your dealings. If your company has an open-door policy, respect it! There’s no excuse for wondering why certain things are the way they are. Keep people informed.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

I strongly believe that the best way to combat workplace accountability is through a strong compliance and ethics program. Often, companies address these issues by writing rules and regulations, trying to improve training, and putting in place policies emphasizing proper conduct. While each of these actions is important, I believe companies must focus on leading employees to make the right choices rather than simply telling them what to do or not do.

Ann Young

Ann Young

Ann Young, Co-Founder, and CEO of Fix The Photo.

Andrew Gutman

Andrew Gutman

Andrew, Managing Editor at BarBend.

3 Methods for Improving Accountability

Improving workplace accountability can sometimes have a negative connotation, but in reality, it’s how organizations can increase their productivity levels and focus on maximizing quality work performance.

1. Set Clear Guidelines
To improve workplace accountability, leaders have to establish clear guidelines defining exactly what their employees are responsible for. From clearly defining their tasks to reminding them of the organization’s values and mission statement. Setting these expectations will give employees a better understanding of what’s expected of them.

2. Goal Setting as a Team
Sitting down with your team to set goals can help to improve workplace accountability. Your team will feel valued and including them in the process can help to set realistic goals that your employees are eager to work towards. This can boost engagement and help them hit the expectations that you have previously set for them.

3. Praise and Recognize Accomplishments
While mistakes will happen in your organization, praising your employees when they go above and beyond or make progress can help to boost morale and leave your employees feeling accomplished.

Hold Regular Performance Reviews

By implementing employee reviews, [you can help] employees feel more driven to live up to what is expected of them. No one likes to receive negative feedback. Knowing that would be a possibility during a performance review will certainly make your employees want to do what they can to avoid that situation and to be responsible in managing and completing their work duties.

Chris Caouette

Chris Caouette

Chris Caouette is the Co-Founder of Gorilla Bow and has been an accomplished entrepreneur and business executive for more than 25 years.

Carter Seuthe

Carter Seuthe

Provide Task Transparency

My best tip for improving accountability is having a level of transparency that extends through every aspect of your business. Employees should know what managers and business leaders are working on and why. Have milestone kickoff meetings that explain these goals and the reasons behind them. Use task-tracking apps like Trello that allow everyone to see what everyone else is working on.

Clearly Define Goals and Responsibilities

Accountability happens with a clear definition of success. [Be] clear about annual and quarterly goals. Update job descriptions regularly. A company [needs to] define success and offer a clear roadmap for its people to get there. You can’t ask employees to work towards metrics they don’t understand or were unaware of in the first place.

Lizabeth Casella

Lizabeth Casella

Lizabeth Casella is the CEO of L-12 Services LLC, a firm specializing in internal communications training focused on workflow, processes, and culture.

Jordan Lowry

Jordan Lowry, Cofounder at Resumoo.

Trust Your Employees

The best way I’ve found to improve workplace accountability is to err on the side of trust. Trust that your employees are capable of doing their work on time and to the best of their ability. Trust that your team will put aside personal differences and come together for the company, client, or customer. Trust that team member tardies and absences are necessary and not malicious.

And probably most importantly, trust in yourself and your decision-making.

Mentor by Modeling Accountability

To make accountability part of your company’s strategy, you must first make certain that the people in charge are setting a good example. Part of being a leader is knowing when to admit that you made the wrong call. Even if you’re an executive, you should be comfortable with saying, “Hey, I made a mistake. Here’s what I’m doing to fix it.”

That’s the other part of what makes a good accountability process. You have to train people to follow up with proposed solutions. This way, you take what could be a negative conversation and derive a positive outcome from it.

Ann Martin

Ann Martin, Director of Operations of Credit Donkey Credit Card Processing.

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