How to Build Accountability in Your People
Accountable employees acknowledge and take on responsibility for their actions and work and see themselves as answerable for their results. As a manager, business owner or organizational leader, of course, you need your workers to be accountable.
Put simply, greater accountability leads to greater productivity. It creates confident, engaged employees who more rapidly reach their full performance potential. Having responsible staff also benefits you directly. They reduce your general level of stress because you know you can count on them. Thus they free you up to focus on tasks that are strategically critical to the success and growth of the business.
Here are seven tips for creating a culture of accountability in your company:
- Don’t tell your staff what to do and how to do it.
Managers are problem solvers. Their default style, honed over many years, is to take responsibility and come up with solutions to problems. When coaching your staff to be more accountable, however, you must overcome any needs you have to relieve your own anxiety that is triggered by questions unanswered and decisions unmade.
- Let them know you expect them to take responsibility.
Early on in your working relationship, tell your employee that you expect him to come up with most answers to work-related problems and that you want him to take prime responsibility for his work performance, career aspirations and job satisfaction. That said, however, you will still be there as a support, coach and advisor.
- Give them clear goals and a lot of latitude around how to achieve them.
You have a major role setting–with employee involvement, ideally–their work objectives and performance standards. Beyond that, however, let them choose how they will accomplish their work goals. If they go off track or fall behind, you can always step in and lead a discussion about what they could do differently to recover.
- Ease off your direction as soon as they start to get it right.
Situational Leadership® teaches that the amount of direction and support you give an employee around a particular task depends on her (1) motivation & self-confidence and (2) competency to perform it. Employees may well require your active involvement with new responsibilities but as soon as they don’t, get out of the way!
- Resist solving their problems; turn it back on them for the solution.
When an employee brings you a question or problem that she should be able to handle…and you solve it…everyone feels good and we can all get on with our work. But you are building dependency, not accountability. Instead, ask her for her ideas.
- Ask questions that focus on their thinking process, not the details
First of all, get her to identify what she wants from you…the solution? advice? ideas? or perhaps just a sympathetic ear? Then, invite her direct involvement with questions such as “What have you tried or considered? What might be a solution or course of action? Where could you get that information?”
- Recognize and acknowledge when they take responsibility.
It requires courage to take on accountability. After all, you could fail. So, whenever an employee does step up and take responsibility for solving a problem, improving his performance or identifying his career aspirations and possible development plans, this is precisely the kind of behavior you want encourage and reinforce.