6 Ways to Make Workplace Accountability Part of Your Culture

Studies have shown that better workplace accountability can improve morale, encourage engagement, and lower attrition rates. It helps to keep your organization working efficiently. But how do you build a foundation of accountability? 

Fostering workplace accountability is simply a matter of setting clear expectations and allowing for routine feedback.

Accountability is critical for meeting deadlines and growing your business. But you might be surprised to learn that accountability can also improve your workplace culture. When everyone is accountable for the results, there isn’t as much tendency to play the blame game when things go wrong, because greater accountability often leads to fewer errors or missed deadlines.

What Does Accountability Mean?

While the traditional view of accountability is typically seen as a negative, we define accountability as “empowering everyone in your organization to take ownership of the results.” This means rising above difficult circumstances to achieve the organization’s goals. Taking ownership over the results can include everything from how you interact with coworkers to whether you finish projects on time. Here are six ways to increase accountability in your organization.


1. Lead by Example

One of the best ways you can make accountability a central part of your workplace is to lead by example. Your team won’t buy into the importance of accountability if they don’t see you modeling what it looks like. Not only is your team accountable for the results your organization achieves, but you are accountable as well – to the results and to your employees. 

Allow space for your people to give you feedback if you aren’t meeting expectations. As you model positive accountability, the rest of your team will begin showing that same dedication.

2. Set Clear Expectations 

Of course, it’s hard to have accountability if you don’t have any goals for which team members are accountable. Everyone in the organization needs to know what you expect from them if they’re going to hold themselves to an acceptable standard. And setting clear goals can also help to improve your workplace culture. When everyone knows what is expected of them, clarity and alignment also increase. 

Try setting goals that are meaningful, measurable, and memorable. When you create goals that everyone can connect to and internalize, you’ll have an easier time achieving the results you need. 

3. Track Progress 

Setting smaller, more manageable goals to work towards while striving to achieve the ultimate results is known as Key Expectations. These could be monthly, quarterly, or even yearly goals. Oftentimes, when lofty goals are broken into smaller pieces, it can make them feel less intimidating and more attainable. 

Once you have your goals in place, it will be time for your accountability machine to start rolling. Set up a system where your teams (including leadership) can track their progress toward certain goals. Ensure they are meeting the expectations on time or ahead of schedule, and those expectations are helping them to achieve larger goals.

4. Provide Feedback

Once you’ve established your Key Expectations, you’ll be in a good place to move to the next stage of accountability: feedback. The goals you set up with your employees can help them to track their progress on their own to a degree. But there’s no substitute for a good feedback session to help employees keep improving, or to keep them motivated. 

Set up routine meetings with your employees to give them feedback on their accountability plans. Make sure that you deliver appreciative feedback as well as constructive. When you do deal with constructive feedback, focus on how you and your team member can work together to find a better solution for both of you. 

5. Accept Feedback

As you’re making arrangements for feedback meetings, it’s important to remember that accountability is a two-way street. Your employees are accountable to you for helping the organization achieve results. And you’re accountable to them for providing a healthy work environment.

If you want to lead by example and foster a positive work culture, ensure they have the opportunity to reciprocate feedback. When feedback is solicited with the question, “do you have any feedback for me?” the answer will most likely be no, because the person on the other side of the question may feel uncomfortable, even if they do have feedback to give you. Instead, ask them: “what feedback do you have for me?” This creates a safe space because it’s understood that you are expecting feedback. Accept it by saying, “Thanks for the feedback!” You then have the opportunity to process it and take action. 

6. Celebrate Progress

Too often, the word “accountability” gets associated with negative feedback and punishment. People think of accountability as being a boss looking over your shoulder and judging your every move. But the truth is that good accountability is as much about celebrating progress as it is about addressing shortcomings. 

When an employee meets or exceeds Key Expectations, be sure to acknowledge and reward that accomplishment. Small tokens of appreciation can be very effective, including recognition in an employee newsletter or a gift card to a local coffee shop. But it’s also important to make sure that people who routinely exceed their benchmarks are offered more opportunities for growth. 

Cultivate Workplace Accountability

Workplace accountability can be an important part of growing a thriving business with a healthy work culture. Start your accountability efforts by leading by example and setting clear goals for your team. Track progress toward benchmarks, set up feedback meetings, and celebrate team members who meet or exceed their goals.

If you’d like to start cultivating workplace accountability in your business, check out the rest of our site at Culture Partners. We can help you to activate your culture for sustained growth. Contact us today and start unleashing the power of your culture by embarking on a culture journey to deliver more impactful results.

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