5 Tips To Encourage Accountability In The Workplace

accountability in the workplace

Accountability in the workplace is, in many ways, the lifeblood of your business. It keeps everything running smoothly and helps maintain a strong and healthy company culture.

As important as it is, though, many have no idea how to go about improving employee accountability in their team. We’re here to help.

In this article, we discuss the benefits of accountability in the workplace and give you tips for improving it in your business.

Accountability In The Workplace Defined

Accountability in the workplace

Improving accountability in the workplace starts with understanding exactly what it is. For that, we go to the dictionary definition of the concept.

Accountability is:

The obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions

In essence, then, accountability is about setting common expectations and holding everyone responsible for abiding by those expectations.

And, that doesn’t just apply to the frontline workers. It applies to everyone.

For your business to be successful, the part-time hourly employee who was hired only a few days ago is just as accountable as the C-suite executives who have been with the company from the beginning.

Too often, though, accountability in the workplace manifests itself as a culture where employees feel compelled to try to catch their coworkers doing something wrong or management feels obliged to lay down strict rules with heavy consequences.

Neither of these is good for your team or your business.

Instead, you want your employees to feel empowered to make decisions (despite the risk of failure), do what they feel is right for the business, strive for excellence at all times, and take ownership of their work.

That’s what real accountability in the workplace can do.

Benefits Of Accountability In The Workplace

Three guys discussing accountability in the workplace

1) Strengthens Culture

Culture in the workplace is broadly defined as:

The behavior within an organization and the meaning that people attach to that behavior

Two important factors that contribute to a strong company culture are the values and norms under which your employees operate.

Healthy accountability in the workplace has a powerfully beneficial effect on those values and norms.

Rather than operating from a place of paranoia and worry (because of values and norms that promote both heavy consequences for failure and “ratting out” teammates), your employees will operate from a place of safety and mutual concern for one another.

That, in turn, helps improve your company culture overall.

Focus on improving accountability and other aspects of your business — company culture in particular — will follow suit.

2) Improves Performance

Healthy accountability has a direct effect on the performance and effort your team puts forth every day. How so?

If, for example, a team member turns in unacceptable work or fails to meet expectations, your system of accountability will dictate that you hold them responsible, communicate what they did wrong, and show them how to improve in the future.

On the other side of the coin, if a team member does good work, follows guidelines, acts appropriately, and meets or exceeds expectations, your system of accountability will dictate that you recognize and reward their effort.

Done in a positive and supportive manner, this raises the level of performance in all aspects, and at all levels, of your business.

3) Builds Trust

Working together as a team is all about trust. You have to trust that your employees have the business’s best interest at heart. And they have to trust that you will support them in good times and bad.

When you have high standards of accountability, your team will feel impelled to do what’s right even if it isn’t in their best interest.

That, in turn, makes it easier for team members to trust each other when it comes to such things as:

  • Meeting deadlines
  • Fulfilling duties
  • Asking for help
  • Seeking advice
  • Taking responsibility for their actions

The whole process only works, though, if you treat everyone with the same standards of accountability.

How To Encourage Accountability In The Workplace

Meeting of How To Encourage Accountability In The Workplace

1) Lead By Example

One of the best ways to encourage accountability in the workplace is to lead by example.

As a manager or owner, you have to operate under the same system as your employees. In fact, you have to set the standard for everyone else to follow.

That means showing up early, leaving late, completing your work on time, and supporting the team in whatever ways you can.

If you miss the mark in some regard, take the opportunity to set yourself up as an example. Submit to the same consequences and opportunities for improvement that your employees would go through.

When your team members see accountability in action — especially applied to a manager or owner — they’ll then be more inclined to do all they can to be just as accountable.

2) Set Clear, Realistic Goals

Goals and expectations are the underlying factors that motivate your team to do their best work. And, when they feel as though they’ve put in 100%, they’ll be more than ready to stand accountable for the results.

That said, those goals and expectations have to be clear and realistic first.

If you ask an employee to “do X as soon as possible and according to the highest standards,” that’s not a very clear, nor realistic goal.

For one thing, “as soon as possible” leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Do you want it done in an hour? Tomorrow? Or next week? Similarly, what exactly are the “highest standards?” That could mean different things to different people.

When you ask your team members to be accountable for their actions and their work, give them specific guidelines and deadlines so they know exactly what defines success and failure.

3) Share The Responsibility

Meeting between coworkers

As a manager or owner, it’s your job to hold your employees accountable at all times. But just because you do the lion’s share of the work doesn’t mean that your team can’t share the responsibility.

Whenever you can, encourage your employees to hold each other — and you — accountable for their actions and work.

Doing so, however, requires that you give distinct, actionable items to each member of the team so that everyone knows who is responsible for what part of the job. This could be something as simple as a form that lists each employee’s tasks for a particular project.

Armed with this information, coworkers can help keep the team on track and accountable for the work they’re doing.

5) Give Clear Feedback

Most businesses reserve giving feedback to scheduled times throughout the year (e.g., the quarterly or mid-year review). But you don’t have to wait for those formal events. You can provide feedback anytime.

In fact, sitting down with your team — or with each employee individually — to discuss what went right and what went wrong is a great way to encourage accountability.

For example, take a few minutes to commend your team or an individual when they:

  • Overcome an obstacle
  • Demonstrate good behavior
  • Meet or exceed goals
  • Take the initiative
  • Help colleagues, clients, or customers
  • Go the extra mile

Similarly, don’t wait until a mid-year review to provide clear feedback when something goes wrong. It’s better to do it immediately so that the issue is fresh in everyone’s mind.

When you do give feedback, deliver it face to face whenever possible and try to follow these guidelines:

  • Be specific
  • Be positive
  • Focus on performance
  • Acknowledge effort

Adhering to these guidelines when you provide feedback will make the experience positive for both sides and help encourage accountability in the workplace.

Improve Accountability With Inch

Inch app

One of the best things you can do to improve accountability in the workplace is to create a strong and stable foundation on which your employees can work.

We mentioned leading by example, setting realistic goals, and learning from mistakes. Another of these fundamental practices is scheduling and task management.

When your team members know when they’re going to work and on what, they can dedicate more of their time and energy to doing their job well.

But this type of organization is sometimes hard to come by. How can you cultivate accountability in the workplace through task management? With help from Inch.

Inch is a workforce management platform that combines task management, team communication, and time tracking to ensure that your employees have the most efficient and connected work environment (that strong and stable foundation we mentioned earlier).

Features include:

  • Powerful task management
  • Intuitive scheduling
  • Comprehensive time-tracking (with geofencing)
  • Dynamic reporting
  • Time-saving payroll processing
  • Customizable communication (e.g., location-specific or team-wide)
  • Effective budgeting
  • Productive labor cost optimization
  • Helpful overtime control
  • And much more…

All of that in a mobile-friendly app that you and your team can use on any device and with any operating system, wherever the job takes you.

When it comes to organizing, managing, and optimizing the way your team operates, there’s no better suite of tools than Inch. Improve your employee accountability by downloading the Inch app for free today and putting it to work in your business.

And, for more free resources to help you manage your team better, save time and energy, and keep everyone on task, visit TryInch.com today.

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