‘Accountability’ might be a small word, but it is an essential aspect of any workplace. Unfortunately, many people are incapable of seeing it through. In today’s world, most organizations function on the theory of ‘upside-down accountability’. But do you know what accountability in a workplace means? How does this work in a good workplace?
Picture this. You are managing a team of 20 people. The team has been assigned a task that has to be completed during the quarter. You remind the members about all the tasks and deadlines. But, despite doing so, they fail to deliver the task or hit the target that was promised to the client.
You then decide to meet the team and discuss the reasons behind the gaps in the task. As soon as the meeting begins, everybody blames each other and the team does not arrive at a consensus. In this scenario, it is evident that nobody was held accountable for what they were doing and the entire workplace lacked a sense of responsibility. This is one example of accountability that is practiced in many major corporations.
In many organizations, only the leaders or top management often find themselves accountable to the higher authorities. Does this serve its purpose? Is it fair to not let other members of a team be accountable for their actions? And if everything goes well, why does the entire team get appreciated?
This blog will discuss what accountability is and why it is important in an organization’s working environment.
What is Accountability?
Accountability in a workplace is a process where a person, irrespective of the position that they hold, steps up and takes the initiative to explain the situation as well as owns up for a decision taken or act committed. This is done without any selfish motives.
But it does not imply that accountability only comes into play when the situation is negative or at times faulty.
Why is Accountability Important in an Organization?
Here are a few reasons that explain the need for accountability in an organization:
Helps in Enhancing Trust
Have you ever wondered why the managers or the team leaders are the only persons held accountable for the entire team? This is because the higher management trusts these people immensely. This is the scenario in most companies, globally, that are working round the clock.
When an organization ensures that accountability is part of the member’s job description, the work environment becomes less toxic. This is because each member of the team stands by their work, instilling a sense of positivity in the entire team. In such environments, the members feel confident and secure because they know that their teammates would not hurt or use them for their gain.
When accountability in the workplace becomes a routine, it brings out the best results in the organization. This, in many ways. enhances the overall performance of every person working in a team. This is because everybody is accountable for the work they do. In other words, if they fail, they would have to explain why they weren’t able to live up to the expectations.
Therefore, when one is held accountable for the work one does, everything changes drastically. This includes their approach towards meeting demands and deadlines.
Makes them More Responsible
Accountability ensures that people understand the seriousness of even the smallest aspects of a task.
How to Increase Accountability in the Workplace?
Now that we know what accountability means and why it is important, let us discuss the different ways of increasing accountability in the workplace.
State who is Accountable and for What
The first step towards ensuring accountability in a workplace is to tell each member what they are accountable for. Explain why this is important and how they could do so. Define their roles, routines, responsibilities, and other things.
While defining the roles to your team members, show them that they have to work towards the long-term goals rather than the short-term goals.
Another way to improve accountability in the workplace is by providing feedback regularly. Feedback encourages accountability in the workplace. As a manager, it is your responsibility to dedicate some time to your team and their work. This will also help you in determining the strengths and weaknesses of a person. Figure out an appropriate way to give feedback. You shouldn’t be hard on your team members, nor should sugarcoat your comments.
There are, however. times when you – the manager – would have to be critical too.
Set Clear and Achievable Goals for your Team
One of the most important things and steps when it comes to improving accountability in the workplace is to set clear goals. Not only for a single member but also for everyone else including yourself. Managers are those persons the other team members look up to. If you set goals for others, you have to do the same for yourself. Also; you need to set achievable goals for your team.
Employee accountability increases when everyone has set goals. They know what they have to do and use the skills they possess to achieve their goals. The members also know that if they fail to achieve the desired results they will be held accountable. So, this trick can improve the work culture, individual efficiency, and performance.
Monitor the Teams’ Responses
When you tell your employees or members how to encourage accountability at work, you should closely monitor them for a few weeks. There are many hiccups when the team involves a new member. So, while sharing your views or demonstrating a role, find out how the employees would react to them. Will they be able to understand the facts or not? Is it the right time to explain the various sides of the task? If managers do not ask these questions to themselves, they are bound to do more harm and good.
Learn to think from an employee’s perspective as well. You can inspire them about accountability later on.
Do the Meetings with Your Employees or Team Members
The fifth step that can help improve self-accountability in your team or organization is to not shy away from difficult discussions. Many people in the organization face multiple problems each day. They have to go through a lot of hardships. A supervisor must be aware of the employees and their performances. There could be a time when you might notice that a member has been consistently performing poorly. In such cases, what would be your next step? Would you fire the person or talk to them and understand their problems?
Sometimes it is harder to break the ice. But doing so benefits both the employee and the manager. Running away would not resolve the problem at hand.
How can you Make Accountability a Part of Your Team?
The above-given steps are highly recommendable and they play an important role in improving the overall working environment. If you wish to make accountability an integral part of your team then here are a few tips.
- When you become accountable for your work, you start realizing your mistakes. When you start realizing your mistakes you start looking for solutions. So, the first tip is to identify your mistakes and open up with your teammates (if you don’t find a solution).
- Try to involve your teammates as much as possible when it comes to setting goals. This will give them a sense of responsibility and accountability. They would also be able to determine their goals as well.
- Each members’ roles, responsibilities, and accountability should be clear.
- While your team stands for their work, make sure that each member’s expectations are understood.
- Ensure that your team has all the important and necessary resources to complete a task.
- Don’t give biased results or feedback. Be honest, even if the feedback is bad.
Improve Accountability in the Workplace
It is wrong to assume that accountability is only a word or a small role that one has to play. This means that you have to be responsible and must keep doing your work come what may. It also means that you have to keep learning, improve processes, and positively impact the company’s bottom line. So, the next time if you feel that accountability has no role in a workplace, think twice.