It’s a difficult tightrope to walk — you want to make sure everyone's contributing without constantly checking in and slowing down productivity. But it’s important to do. A Gallup poll found that disengaged employees shrugging off work accounted for up to $550 billion in losses a year!
One of the primary trends we identified in our Employee Engagement Report is that accountability will be a major issue for employees going forward. In fact, employees listed colleagues failing to follow through as their biggest productivity concern.
Implementing accountability in your organization isn’t easy. Sometimes you might have to have uncomfortable conversations. But you’ll improve employee retention in the long-term if you prove to be the kind of leader the organization needs. Contrary to popular opinion, most employees want their organizations to hold them accountable for doing good work.
1. Demonstrate the value of responsibility
Companies have a tendency to reward star performers. This sometimes comes at the cost of overlooking the steady contributor who keeps everything together. The employee who is organized, knowledgeable, and always meets their deadlines needs some love too. Make sure that they get it. Provide rewards for loyalty and consistent performance.
2. Ensure everyone understands their role
With clear, well-defined positions and objectives, you’ll ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Everyone on your team should know their responsibilities and the responsibilities of others. This will lead to peer-to-peer accountability, in which employees manage each other. We’re predicting that this will grow in the coming year as well.
Of course, you also want to offer opportunities to be creative. Some include some flexibility in roles. This is a difficult balance to strike, but it’s necessary if you want to both be innovative and get things done.
3. Avoid penalties
Typically employees don’t drop the ball because they’re lazy or unfocused. Make sure you clearly communicate what each team member needs to do. If they don’t do it, talk to them about why. After all, most employees will want to be part of a team that’s doing good work. Reserve penalties for only extreme cases of negligence in which the employee should be fired.
4. Offer consistent, actionable feedback
Provide employees with specific ideas about how they can do their jobs better. Focus on improvement and encouragement. If employees know you want to help them and the company, they’re more likely to take their job seriously.
5. Provide data
Employees have a tendency to believe management is targeting them personally. By using data, you can demonstrate that it’s nothing personal — it’s just about doing business. Set reasonable targets and hold employees accountable for meeting them. Make this data transparent so employees know exactly where they’re at.
Pushing your team to maintain high standards is at the core of what it means to be a manager. It requires a nuanced touch. You have to be both tough and gracious to successfully run a business.