Accountability in the workplace is an oft overlooked aspect to a company's success. From the outside, a company might appear to be performing very well while internally the culture is a mess. Often companies find themselves in the mindset of 'failure is not an option' which puts employees in a position of not wanting to accept the responsibility of being held accountable. Questions such as “What if….?” and “Will I….?” start to allow doubt to creep into their mind. By allowing an employee to see failure as a viable option, a great leader will free their employees to be more successful. Deborah Mills-Scofield writes about how to bring back accountability:
So, how do we help our cultures, ourselves, our people overcome the fear of failure and commit in a uncertain world? I have a few suggestions based on my experience in both accountable, and unaccountable, company cultures:
- Communicate100. Communicate why the request is important to the organization, to both of you, and how it's fulfillment will make a difference. What may seem trivial to us may be profound to someone else. To commit, we need to believe in something bigger than just ourselves or the organization, such as the mission and purpose of the organization. That is how we start changing behavior and making new habits.
- Make sure that you're present to support the request and remove or mitigate obstacles. Meet regularly to identify potential challenges and opportunities before they become a major problem.
- Re-prioritize responsibilities and tasks to allow the person or team to complete the request. Don't just add on. Not everything is urgent and important. Seriously, show your commitment to the request you've made. If it's not worth re-prioritizing, then it isn't worth asking.
- Create ways to eliminate or minimize the stigma of failure. Focus on what's been learned and how that applies, watch how you react to and treat the person, how you discuss it with others affected by the result and how you let it impact that person's future success in the organization. Even if you can't change the organization's performance management process, your own personal demeanor and handling has an enormous impact
Accountability is difficult to achieve because there is no clear path to success but following these guiding principles is a great way to get started on improving company culture. Creating an environment where accountability is valued should be of paramount importance to any leader.