Three Crucial Steps to Create and Support Accountability

Accountability in the workplace means taking responsibility for commitments and results. It’s a culture, not a command. These three strategies will help foster greater accountability within your workforce:

Clarify consistent priorities.
Setting objectives and priorities are just a first step. You’ve got to communicate them over and over again in different ways (departmental meetings, supplementary email, one-on-one meetings with employees, and so forth). The harder step is sticking to them. If priorities shift suddenly from one month or week to the next, employees won’t feel compelled to follow through on plans and commitments. Establish strategic objectives that you can stick to, and then stick to them.

Communicate solid expectations.
Priorities and mission statements are big-picture tools. Once those are in place, you’ve got to work individually with your employees to outline their various roles. Don’t micromanage, but don’t be too hands-off. Discuss what they have to accomplish in concrete terms. Make it a two-way conversation, inviting their ideas and feedback. Explain the impact of success and failure on other employees and departments, as well as the organization as a whole. Employees should understand the consequences of their actions. Then they’ll accept responsibility more readily.

Be a role model.
You can’t expect accountability in your employees if you don’t practice it yourself. Hold firm to your commitments, even when it’s inconvenient (staying late to finish a project on deadline, for example). When you do have to break a promise, explain why without making excuses. Hold yourself to a high standard of accountability and those around you will understand what it’s all about.

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