Everyone loves an employee who goes above and beyond his or her call of duty. Someone who is responsible, takes initiative, and really owns his or her own projects, problems, and processes.
Somewhere along the way, they must have learned that good things happen when he or she is held accountable. But it is up to you – the boss – to make sure that she is continually motivated and that he or she does not have any change of heart.
Although it is true that you can’t force anyone to be made accountable, it is important to note that if a work environment is designed for accountability, it will be able to flourish more. When it is not, you will get superb jobs done by people. That is, until the stop making the effort to do so or they leave for another job.
Of course, an accountable workplace will not magically appear overnight, but you need to get the right elements in place for it to be possible. So, where should you focus your time and attention?
- Clear roles, team leadership, and individual ownership. There are people who struggle with accountability, especially when roles and processes remain ambiguous or undefined. If we remove confusion among people, is important so that everyone knows the role they have to play within the organization. If a team is accountable, members will be able to identify gaps, learn new roles, and processes, as well as build a more capable team.
- Ownership for team results. A focus on team processes is essential for team accountability to work. How is the entire team working towards the goals and outcomes that they set? Are the members effectively doing their jobs? Do they feel full accountability on the issue of improving the team’s processes? Each and every member of the team should have an obligation to seek information, give and receive feedback on his or her work, and finally point out what is there to be corrected at any given time.
- Freedom, support, and control over navigating competing priorities. Most of the problems that an organization has can be solved by a multiple of right answers. As the person in authority, it is important that you give those under you the freedom and control that they need in order to come up with decisions. Most of the time, the first solution that you are actually good enough to solve the problem, so instead of inserting your own, work on improving the answers that you are given. Support is the key, so be sure that your people have the right resources, knowledge, and assistance that they need.
- Don’t punish them. If your goal for making accountability in your workplace is to know whom you should punish when goals are not met, you will only succeed in creating fear among those who work for you. No one will be willing to share his or her ideas, or even try something new. The process of innovation and risk taking will be lost, and the organization will cease to grow.
- Accountability is the base on which learning is created for an organization. If your dream to make a sustainable and high quality process for your organization, you need to be able to see what exactly is working and what is not. To that end, each person in the team needs to be able to say what he or she know, think, and did. One important thing that can be done in support of the learning atmosphere in the workplace is to take a systematic approach, and hold each person accountable. Seek to learn and understand the aspects of situations that have direct influence on the process, system, culture, and circumstances.
- In any organization there should be no expectation for everything to “stay under the radar”. In fact, people have the tendency to seek feedback because they know that these are intended to improve the flow of the group’s processes as well as add information to their own database. Organizations use feedback forms as well as evaluation tools to assess the health and success of a manager, team, process, and even a department. It helps to have these evaluation tools in a timely manner so that there are no surprises at the end of the road.
- Integrity is Big. People are often called out for things that they fail they do when they say that they will do it. When anyone falls short of expectations, it is important that your people have enough integrity to admit that they have fallen short of expectations and that they do something to improve on it.