How to improve employee accountability in the workplace

All business owners wish for their employees to take ownership of their roles and work together as a unit in a harmonious manner. This is so projects, no matter how big or how complex, can be seamlessly completed to a high standard within a timely manner. Likewise, senior managers also love to have different departments collaborating effectively via strong communication. This is so delays in output are minimised.

In a perfect world, employees should work like a well-oiled machine where efficiency is at 100%. Though such a level of efficiency is nearly impossible to achieve, there is one thing that, when cultivated in the hearts of every employee, can make running a business seem like child play.

You guessed it: accountability.

What is accountability?

Accountability refers to an employee’s understanding of their role. It is about taking ownership and responsibility for their output. If an employee is expected to get something completed within a certain time frame, an employee with high accountability will ensure that it does get done on time. If a team completes a job on time, then this is also a form of workplace accountability. Likewise, if you are a worker, accountability is taking responsibility for your errors.

Put simply, accountability is about achieving tasks on time and adhering to guidelines.

How does accountability increase employee performance?

Overhead view of meeting
Good accountability will lead to better performances. Photo: 889520, Pixabay

Contrary to what other people might think, employees actually like being accountable. It increases their self-worth, boosts their confidence in their role, leaving them fulfilled. They are satisfied with knowing that they are being trusted with something important to the business.

When done right, accountability boosts employee morale and workplace performance because workers can take ownership of their jobs.

However, how does a business manager make accountability less fearsome and competitive. Over-competition in the workplace can be damaging, so it’s important to keep your accountability measures in check.

1. Set expectations right from start

During the hiring and introductory processes, lay down the employee’s responsibilities and show them where their job fits in the process. Provide positive reinforcement by telling them how important their role is in achieving the company’s goals.

It is also good to discuss feedback and coaching sessions so the employee knows when to expect one-on-one meetings. To ensure the employee’s maximum retention of the information, use a templated document that helps you both share the vision and the objective.

2. Follow through with the feedback sessions

Do not forego feedback sessions because they are so important in helping the employees perform their roles to the highest standard. This is especially important for new workers and minimising the initial learning curve.

This is also a good time to know more about your employees and make them feel comfortable in talking with you or with a superior. Make feedback sessions light and something that they don’t dread or get nervous about. Encourage interaction by asking them questions about their weekends and what they get up to in their free time. Consider asking questions about the company – you should be asking for their feedback as well!

3. Learn to provide negative and difficult feedback

Providing negative feedback may feel uncomfortable at first but you and your employees will get used to it over time. The key to providing criticism is making it constructive. Don’t just criticise a worker for failing to do something; provide a reasonable plan and solution to the issue.

Another good technique is to provide a strength with a point of criticism. However, it’s important that you don’t sugar coat the problem just to avoid getting awkward and hurting someone’s feelings. If the problem needs to be rectified quickly, make this known.

4. Set challenging yet attainable goals

Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed) that allow your employees the freedom to get creative when achieving those goals. These days, people don’t like being forced into processes. Conventions in the workplace are constantly changing and so too should your workplace goals.

Encourage employees to think outside of the box. Just make sure that they talk with you first before implementing anything. Who knows, you might end up with a winning idea.

5. Reward appropriately

Reward your employees when appropriate. Photo: Yutacar, Unsplash

Go beyond giving a simple tap on the back when your employees do a good job. Recognise your employees with an award or dinner. This can help boost morale and ensure your workers truly “own” their jobs.

Communication is key in creating a culture of accountability at work. It takes practice and a conscious follow through, however, once you get the hang of it, it becomes a natural process.

Rodney Michail
Rodney Michail
Rodney Michail is the Managing Director at Ausloans and 1800Approved Finance Solutions where he mentors willing entrepreneurs in the asset finance sector. He is also an expert in improving top-line sales and profits of SMEs and corporate.
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