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Encouraging accountability in employees is important for the success of any organization, and typically falls on the manager’s shoulders. It’s the manager’s job to create a culture of accountability, but two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable having conversations with employees when they need to point out mistakes, delays, micro-aggressions, inaccuracies, faux pas, and flubs. Especially because what they typically get in return is defensiveness, anger, or tears. To encourage accountability so there are fewer reasons to have these conversations, managers can take the following seven steps.  

1. Lead by example

Modeling the behavior a manager expects from their employees is crucial to creating a culture of accountability. Managers must exhibit the type of behavior they want to see in their team. It means walking the walk and talking the talk all the time. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” Because the minute a manager does the opposite of what they’re telling everyone else to do, they lose the employees’ trust. And trust is the necessary backbone to everything else that comes next. 

2. Set clear expectations

Managers should set clear expectations for their employees and ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them. This includes setting goals and outlining the steps needed to achieve them. Over-communication is necessary for this step, especially with any new team members. Providing clear verbal communication should be the first method, but it is also smart to provide expectations in print via email. And then check in to make sure there aren’t any questions or miscommunications. If and when they occur, handle them swiftly and directly.   

3. Provide feedback

Regular feedback is essential for helping employees understand how they can improve. This means having difficult conversations and ensuring that employees understand the consequences of their actions. Managers should provide regular feedback in a timely manner and make sure it is specific and actionable, especially if it’s constructive. It may feel like micro-managing at first, but checking in often with team members is one way for a manager to know when an employee isn’t following through, and to help them figure out why as well as how to get back on track. Given in a manner that shows you care about the person is key here. Employees need information to continue to grow, and the manager is the best person for the job. 

4. Provide resources

To meet their business goals, employees need resources and support. Therefore, managers should ensure that employees have the tools and training needed to succeed. Give them what they want. Ninety-six percent of employees polled say it is important or very important for them to continuously develop their work-related skills. Hard skills are necessary but soft skills training is just as important. The ability to cooperate, collaborate, put the team first, and talk to each other respectfully doesn’t always come naturally. And yet this is exactly what they will be expected to do. Plus, you’ll want them to hold each other accountable in a way that doesn’t cause destructive conflict.  

5. Celebrate successes

When employees meet or exceed expectations, managers must acknowledge it. In fact, more than forty percent of employed Americans feel that if they were recognized more often, they would put more energy into their work. However, a manager must realize that different people like to be celebrated differently. Some crave attention, while others are embarrassed by it, so a manager should understand how each person on their team prefers to be recognized. When an employee’s efforts are celebrated in a way that is meaningful to them, they will be more likely to stay in their role and strive for excellence.  

6. Empower employees

Give employees autonomy and ownership over their work. Allow them to make decisions and take responsibility for the outcomes. When individuals feel trusted and empowered, they are more likely to hold themselves accountable. 

7. Encourage learning and growth

Promote a learning culture where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth. Encourage employees to learn from their experiences and share lessons with the team. This helps create a supportive environment where individuals are more likely to take ownership of their actions. 

Creating a Culture of Accountability

Overall, promoting accountability in employees requires consistent effort, attention, and a certain amount of finesse from managers. Leading by example, setting clear expectations, providing feedback and resources, celebrating successes, empowering and encouraging learning and growth, managers inspire accountability in their employees and drive success within the organization. Then and only then can a manager begin to discuss how the team will hold itself accountable. A true culture of accountability involves the whole team holding each other accountable instead of waiting for the boss to intervene.  

Stay tuned for our next post on how managers can help encourage accountability between team members so that there is an atmosphere of trust, transparency, and open communication. And if you are a manager, check out the training that Brilliant People™ provides on personality, productive conflict, management and team building. The culture (r)evolution starts with you! 

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