10 Simple Ways to Foster a Work Culture of Accountability

3 min read
Aug 17, 2016

Workplace accountability

Our Engagement Report found that lack of accountability is a major factor in employee retention. No one wants to put in hard work just to be let down by colleagues who lack follow-through. That’s why increasing accountability is a big issue for workplaces today.

According to the Human Resources Management Association of Canada, research has shown that leadership has a considerable impact on whether accountability efforts are successful or not. But so far, those efforts are less than successful — the American Management Association found that a majority of senior-level employees believe that between 20% and 30% of employees regularly do less than their best. Heres how to ensure everyone on your team is doing their job right.


01. Establish broad and specific objectives

Set expectations across the board for the company and then for each individual project. By establishing clear, measurable goals for employees, they can see exactly what they need to accomplish.

Setting these goals is also crucial during the employee onboarding process where new hires typically get bombarded with a ton of information. Online platforms like Lessonly allow employees to hold themselves accountable to training material by tracking what theyve learned.

02. Make comprehensive job descriptions

Our research found that 10% of employees felt they weren’t meeting their potential because their job is ill-defined. Ensure that every employee knows what they’re responsible for on a day in, day out basis.

03. Communicate with employees about what they need

Accountability goes both ways. Employees need certain resources to get their jobs done. And it’s management’s responsibility to provide those resources.


The era of peer and personal accountability


04. Always follow up

One major issue is lack of reflective thinking. After a project or initiative is completed, have the whole team look back at what they did well and what they could improve on. And if an employee missed something significant, be sure to have a one-on-one with them.

05. Don’t let little problems snowball

A cultural problem is when seemingly small things, like missing deadlines or routinely being five minutes late, are accepted as par for the course. Hold your employees to higher standards. Be sure that they know you expect that they’ll take care of the “little things.”

06. But be willing to accept failure

On the other hand, it’s unreasonable to expect perfection from employees. Provide flexibility when necessary. If it’s the first time an employee has been late in a year, give them the benefit of the doubt. If they only miss their sales numbers occasionally, chalk it up to chance and don’t mention it to them.


07. Be a role model

Accountability begins with leaders acting like leaders. When you’re busy, it’s easy to let the small things slide, like not responding to emails or showing up to a meeting late. But it’s detrimental to workplace culture if employees see leadership as unaccountable.

Workplace accountability

08. Create accountability work groups

Express to your team that you take accountability seriously. Set up work groups that will ensure every aspect of your organization is held responsible.


09. Establish recognition programs

Demonstrate to employees that good work is valued through establishing meaningful recognition programs. Also, informal recognition of a job well done is valuable too.

10. Taking ownership

This one is a bit trickier and gets at workplace culture. When employees feel truly invested in the company, they’ll take ownership of their work — in other words, they’ll hold themselves accountable. Listening to and valuing employees’ ideas and allowing for bottom-up decision-making will make it more likely that employees will take ownership of their work.

Help employees do their best by instituting accountability measures. They’ll pay off in real business benefits and ensure that your team is functioning at the highest level possible.



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