Accountability is a buzzword that is used regularly in today’s professional environment. But what does it mean and how can we achieve it?
At a very basic level, accountability is having to answer for one’s actions. In the workplace, accountability is defined as employees behaving in a certain manner knowing in advance that they will have to explain themselves and that their actions have consequences.
There is no exact formula for fostering an environment of accountability. There are, however, a few tips that can help get your company moving in the right direction – including:
Communicate your vision: Employees need to know that their work and efforts matter. Those who understand how their day-to-day duties affect the company’s overall success are far more likely to hold themselves, and their peers, accountable. Unfortunately, the sad truth remains that management, in companies of all sizes, often struggles to connect their vision to the rest of the company. In fact only 43% of workers say they feel accountable to the company’s revenue, profit or growth. This disconnect negatively affects morale, productivity and ultimately the bottom-line.
Set goals: Setting goals, at every level of a company, is an important process. All employees should set short and long-term goals for which they will be held responsible for reaching. Managers should ensure the success is attainable, evaluate their progress, and offer feedback, consistently throughout the year.
Empower: With limited hours in the day, even the most aligned companies struggle to prioritize goals. Arm all of your employees, not just a select few, with the freedom and control they need to navigate competing priorities. Empowering your employees this way will help them avoid bottlenecks and remain accountable to their goals.
Assess progress: By now your employees have set their goals, understand their purpose and are empowered to do what they need to succeed. That should be all you need to create an accountable environment, right? Wrong. In order to foster accountability employees must believe there is a fair and accurate process for keeping track of their progress toward their goals.
Learn from failures: Failure, to some extent, is inevitable at every company. How you react to this failure can set you apart from your competitors. Try to understand why employees don’t meet their goals rather than reprimanding them. Encouraging an open and honest dialogue between manager and employee will help all parties learn and will result in stronger performances down the road.
Bottom line: If your workplace employs engaged and accountable individuals your company will inevitably flourish. Taking time to create a framework that ensures your employees are setup to succeed is well worth your time.