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  • Keeping Employees Accountable- A How-To

    Insight Into Accountability

    Business owners and managers have probably heard the term employee accountability' thrown around at various meetings and conferences. It becomes a key point when discussing business success, and even how to bolster trust and ownership when it's severely lacking.

    Employee accountability refers to each person in a workplace being responsible for accomplishing their goals. These can be individual goals or common ones for the overall success of the business. However, accountability is a learned trait, not always a natural one. Read on to learn why it's important and how you can foster it in your own company.

    Why Employee Accountability Matters

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    You will hear several leaders and managers talk about the importance of employee accountability. Still, it's not enough to just know it's essential, it's equally as crucial to understanding why. Why is this one thing one of the most critical elements of a successful organization?

    • Trust Building- Trust not only matters in personal relationships but work ones, as well. Accountability breeds trust from the part-time cleaner to the top-level executive. When you make a decision for your business, apply it to everyone equally, own it, and be transparent. When your words are a reflection of your actions, you gain the trust of your team.

    • Culture Strengthening- Being accountable for your actions can strengthen the culture of any workplace. While it's a simple action, it's one that has a snowball effect. When you make a decision, you follow it through with team empowerment and buy-in. By making that decision the responsibility of everyone, you're promoting a team player's environment.

    • Expectation Setting- Employee accountability can have a surprising benefit of setting high but achievable expectations. As a manager, you can encourage positive outcomes and discourage those that may not be. But at the same time, you're also correcting low levels of performance.

      Before long, everyone knows that a subpar outcome is not acceptable. You've then managed to set your level of expectation that's achievable by all.

    • Common Goal Achievement- Most managers try to encourage an element of teamwork. After all, it has a myriad of different benefits, like efficiency, communication, and personal growth. However, a team of accountable workers who work to achieve a common goal can be even more rewarding.

      If everyone has a job to do individually for the success of the collective, they excel in their performance. They know their job matters, especially when their particular task is part of a complex picture at the end.

    How to Ensure You Are Keeping Employees Accountable

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    Knowing the benefits of employee accountability is one thing, but acting it out in your workplace is another. To benefit from the points above, you need to be equally as accountable as your team.
    There are many reasons why a manager may not want to promote a workplace of accountability.

    Some would prefer to avoid conflict, while others either want their team to like them or don't know how to go about it. Some simply believe that if they hire the right person for the job, they don't need to worry.

    Whatever your position, you may be surprised that accountability amongst your staff is easier to achieve than you might think-

    • Follow Up- It's all too easy, as a manager, to say you'll do something and then not do it. Promoting accountability in your workplace can be as easy as doing precisely what you say and leading by example.

      For example, you might set out a project for everyone to work on, and say you will meet with them again to view their progress. If you don't, then you're telling your team it's okay not to follow through. Straight after that meeting, schedule another one in your calendar X days or weeks later.

    • Set High Expectations- When you have low or uncommunicated expectations, then you can't expect your team to do any more than what it takes to meet them. High expectations, however, are there to be met. When your standards slip or are not visible, to begin with, then performance slips, too.

    • Be Consistent- Promoting a workplace of accountability can be as simple as remaining consistent in your role as a manager. Every decision you make must be consistent and unwavering.

      For example, if an employee regularly underperforms on a set task, but you only call them out on it once, they may never learn that every time they underperform is not acceptable. Not just that one time that you spoke up about it.


    It can be hard work managing staff, but only if you never set out clear expectations. If you actively encourage employee accountability, then there's every reason to believe your team is there to help you achieve your overall business goals.

    • Understand why personal accountability and team accountability matters. It builds trust, sets expectations, and creates a better workplace culture.
    • Make sure to take responsibility and learn how to keep your employees are held accountable and take ownership of their actions. You may have to sacrifice your own feelings about wanting to be liked.
    • Set high expectations, remain consistent in everything you do, and follow up when you say you will. Hold your employees accountable for the work they are expected to do. These are all behaviors that lay the groundwork to create accountability in a well-functioning workplace.
    • Employees understand that if they lack accountability it can negatively impact their position at a company. Improve accountability with your team members by focusing on improving the company culture around doing what is expected.