“Accountability is a statement of personal promise, both to yourself and to the people around you, to deliver specific, defined results.“
– Brian Drive
It is disturbing to see an increasing lack of personal accountability in the workplace. The common phrase, “it’s not my job” or “that’s not my issue,” has become deeply rooted in current workplace culture and the contagion of lackadaisical behavior has harmed work environments. We’ve seen victim-mentality flourish, which is the antithesis of resiliency. But the good news is it’s a learned behavior, often used to cope with stress, and therefore, is a way of thinking that can be changed.
Accountability is a significant component of accomplishment in the workplace and sets a foundation of mutual expectation between colleagues. It fuels success, creates team member buy-in, improves performance, and builds trust by holding people to a standard expectation, aligned with the company’s mission, values, and goals. Accountability is also powerfully contagious, inspiring autonomy and encouraging consistency and follow-through. However, accountability is challenging—it takes focus and consistent effort to stay grounded in your personal promise to yourself and others.
Diligent efforts to develop accountability are absolutely worth the time. When leaders hold all employees accountable for doing what they agreed to do, trust is strengthened among individuals and teams. People rely on each other, and communication is enhanced, whether that means meeting deadlines, following through, or feeling comfortable enough to approach a co-worker or manager for help. Author, Pete Lowe described it as: “When an organization’s culture is embedded in honesty and integrity it enables people to acknowledge mistakes without fear of blame and to work with the team to reflect, learn and move forward positively.” These examples of accountability create open communication, emotional buy-in, and build trust—resulting in a learning environment for success and productivity.
All that being said, evaluate:
- How often do you hold yourself accountable?
- How often do you hold others accountable?
- Do you do it compassionately?
- What effect does this have on the results you desire?
LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY: Accountability is arguably the most crucial component of a cohesive and effective workplace. You CAN learn (and coach your employees) to lose the victim-mentality. You and your employees can take ownership of—and close—the gap between actual and desired results. Don’t think you have to figure it all out on your own, either. We have worked with many leaders who have utilized behavioral assessments, like the Harrison, to foster accountability in the workplace. Reach out to discuss how we can help you, too.
Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.