How do you increase employee accountability? Despite the efforts of well-intended HR departments and leaders to create clearly defined job descriptions, confusion persists regarding specific roles and responsibilities in almost every industry, public sector, as well enterprises of all sizes and descriptions. When mistakes are made, deadlines are missed, or communication goes haywire, the blame game, finger-pointing and excuse-making escalates.
Any of these scenarios beg the question: “Who is responsible?”
All too often, discussions regarding delegation of work assignments and ultimate job ownership are tainted with negatives, especially on occasions when problems ensue. “Responsibility” connotes “obligation” as opposed to “empowerment”. Therefore, it’s no surprise that employers find it a challenge to build a culture of accountability. The solution lies in building an atmosphere of trust where individuals can confidently accept responsibility and hold themselves accountable for outcomes. First, it behooves leaders and managers to be role models for others, recognizing that they too are answerable for high standards of performance and results. Secondly, it is possible to increase accountability in the workplace by adhering to the following:
Discern whether you have a “Team” Problem Or A “Me” Problem
When teams are assigned their respective tasks and responsibilties, they are accountable for their individual performance, contribution and results. It is the manager who is ulitmately responsibile and accoutable for the collective outcome. In short: Everyone shares responsibility. The “buck stops” at the top. Examples abound of managers and teams abdicating ownership, or situations where accusations are exchanged and tensions escalate. The fact remains that responsibility for clear communication lies with the sender. If leaders do not clearly articulate expectations at the outset, it stands to reason that employees may be confused about what needs to be done… and why it matters.
Delegate authority and responsibility
Effective delegation is a skill. It is an opportunity to identify talent and increase accountability in the workplace. It should not be done randomly, nor should the intent be burdensome or carried out expediently. When a leader is cognizant of each team member’s strengths and skill-set, he or she is better able to delegate tasks that will help individuals develop, and capitalize on the learning opportunity in order to make a difference, whether they are working on a specific project, or duties related to their day-to-day responsibilities. Employees are far more likely to flourish when they are given the authority to succeed and permission to fail.
View accountability through a positive lens
Many workplace surveys reveal worrisome statistics regarding leadership perceptions and the lack of accountability eminating from employees. By encourging autonomy, we build accountabiity and in turn, higher levels of trust. How is it possible for people to thrive in an atmosphere where they are either micromanaged or mistrusted? In order to encourage your teams to “give their all”, accountability must be viewed through a positive lens. Increasing accountability is directly related to developing an employee’s pride regarding their work. When he or she feels a sense of accomplishment, clarity regarding his or her responsibilities, as well a deeper connection to the purpose of his or her work and your organization’s goals, the desire to take ownership is greater.