Accountability is important in many areas of life, especially in the workplace. Accountability is about following through and completing what you set out to do. It means being dependable as a member of your team and staying true to your commitments. Part of this accountability is being a great communicator so that everyone is on the same page and can function well together.
Accountability has been proven to directly link to increased employee morale and commitment, higher work performance, and therefore, a more successful business. Not only this, but accountability promotes trust among employees, as well as more opportunities for creativity and innovation because employees are satisfied and invested in their work.
Sometimes, managers overlook their duties to promote and improve accountability within the workplace. It may be because they want to avoid confrontation, but in the end, this is doing a disservice to everyone involved. Employees who are underperforming often know that they are. Rather than avoiding them, causing them to feel unnoticed and devalued, approaching them with a respectful conversation will encourage them to push forward and improve. In addition to helping lower-performing individuals to succeed, encouragement towards accountability also improves the overall culture of the workplace, causing the rest of the team to understand the standards of success expected. Continue reading for a few strategies to help increase workplace accountability:
Give ample recognition
First and foremost, every human wants to feel recognized; it’s a basic human desire. Make sure you acknowledge and reward great performance and have a plan set out to do so. Most employees appreciate feedback on their performance, and, millennials especially, benefit from positive reinforcement of their achievements. Strive to give recognition that is genuine, relevant to their achievement, public, personalized to them, and, most important, consistent.
Recognition is certainly an incentive in itself to succeed, but giving more tangible incentives to your employees can also promote accountability. Consider what kinds of performance incentives are relevant to your industry and workplace, and decide how and when they should be distributed. Then, tie the incentives directly to performance goals. Once you have a plan outlined, be open with your employees so that they are aware and can be responsible for receiving those incentives. Your incentives should be stratified, meaning there are several tiers of rewards allowing your top and middle performers to achieve them. Personalize the rewards to the desires of the employees in your workforce.
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
Setting the right kind of goals for everyone in the workplace is also a great way to keep team members accountable. Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to produce goals that are effective. This stands for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Write down these goals with employees once you’ve settled on them. Creating goals in this manner will promote clear communication between managers and employees so there are no gray areas for confusion to creep in. It ensures you and your employees are on the same page about target goals, and puts the responsibility on your employees to strive towards them.
Follow up / Follow through
Accountability essentially comes down to following through with what you set out to do; so as a manager, make sure to set an example and keep yourself accountable by following up with your employees along the way to check in on their habits and progress. You don’t want to be constantly looking over their shoulder or micromanaging, of course, but neglecting to check in is equally detrimental. Refer to the goals you’ve written down and the expectations that have been laid out when having conversations with your employees about their progress. Acknowledge where those goals are being met, reward that, and also address those areas that may need more work. After your conversations, keep a log of what was talked about so that you can stay organized and accountable for those areas talked about and any future expectations or goals. Your records could be in the form of an email to yourself and to the employee that reiterates and reinforces what was talked about. This is a great way to keep everyone on the same page, and it gives you a paper trail to refer back to.
Accountability may, at first, seem too intangible a concept to promote in your workplace, but it can be extremely instrumental in promoting success. These tips should help make the concept more practical to implement on a daily basis. As a manager, you not only have the responsibility to hold your employees accountable for their work, but also to hold yourself accountable. So, try out these tips, lead by example, and create a culture of employees committed to success.