Creating and encouraging a culture of accountability at work
Leaders within an organization often set up certain practices that encourage a more inclusive and productive workplace. One such important system for better workplace behavior is the culture of accountability.
Accountability in the workplace is transparent and honest communication among co-workers and their leaders about prospects and obstacles that can potentially affect expected outcomes within an organization.
The culture of accountability is a vital behavior for employees within an organization to adopt. It breeds workers' creativity, productivity, and fulfillment and dispels resentment.
In this post, Workee experts help you understand what accountability culture means for organizations and how it can be developed.
What is the culture of accountability?
A culture of accountability is a system that fosters open communication and provides individuals with a sense of responsibility for results and outcomes.
In a thriving accountability culture, workers are intrinsically motivated to realize the expected outcome, so everyone is personally committed to the journey. Questions are asked, suggestions are made, follow-up is done with each other, and there is the proactive delivery of work progress reports. Workers take responsibility for their actions and inactions.
Why is having a culture of accountability important?
Organizational activity usually requires individuals to work together, and the quality of communication impacts the results. An accountability culture among the workers allows for smooth and easy collaboration. Nothing is better than having all hands on deck working towards a shared goal.
The culture of accountability creates a sense of responsibility and personal commitment among workers across all levels. Thus, they accept mistakes and rise to challenges instead of making excuses. This results in better performance for the organization.
The culture of accountability drives the quick execution of tasks. Workers are motivated by one another's commitment, and no one is slacking in their duties. Managers can be sure that projects will be completed on time because there is synergy between the teams and members.
An accountability culture helps the organization's management to identify challenges early enough and address them appropriately.
How to create a culture of accountability
Creating a culture of accountability is not done overnight but over time. It is the result of consistent training, orientation, and practice. Leaders can build a strong and lasting accountability culture by consistently practicing these steps in the workplace.
1. Create a safe environment
Accountability is a voluntary act and cannot be forced really. However, leaders can and should create a nontoxic work environment where employees can voluntarily perform at their best. A culture of accountability will thrive only in an environment that acknowledges the humanity and flaws of the workers. Mistakes can be made, motivation can wane, and things can spiral out of control anytime.
A safe working environment accommodates (but does not encourage) mistakes while rewarding creativity and good performance. Employees can freely question, learn, suggest, connect, and grow. In such a secure environment, creativity and accountability flourish.
2. Let the change begin with you
The culture of the accountability pyramid shows that accountability begins from the top downwards, not vice versa. Leaders should model the changes they wish to see in the organization by being accountable to their superiors and the team. Trying to culture accountability in the workplace without demonstrating it can breed the opposite — secrecy, and distrust. The accountability culture is facilitated when leaders take responsibility for the shortcomings of the team and its members and work to find solutions to problems instead of blaming them. This sets the stage for employees to overcome their own mistakes and challenges without feeling inept or incapable.
An important point to note here is that while the culture of accountability can not be forced at the beginning, once it has been established, it must be consistently reinforced. Leaders must set a system of accountability that everyone, including themselves, must obey.
3. Set clearly defined goals and metrics
In building a culture of accountability, everyone should be clear on the desired outcomes for the organization. Vague expectations often fail because they leave no one responsible for achieving the result. For example, every organization ultimately wants to make better sales, but this is not solely the job of a particular person or team, even though there is a sales team. Everyone must be educated on how their job roles ultimately influence market sales, and standards must be set to measure the performance of each team.
Goals must be S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), and KPIs must be provided as templates for measuring progress in achieving the goals.
4. Delegate and decentralize
Delegating tasks to workers inspires them to believe in themselves and their abilities. Leaders must train team members to take the initiative in unplanned situations and reward them when they do. People feel more responsibility and ownership over things that have been placed in their hands. Leaders can begin by assigning smaller tasks and then iterating the scope of what is delegable or not.
Of course, this poses a certain degree of risk, but the risk can be minimized by providing guidelines for handling such situations. Besides, the reward of having smarter and more productive employees is far higher and more profitable for the organization than the potential risk.
5. Request and accept feedback
Gallup found that only 47% of employees receive some sort of feedback from their managers in a year. And 26% of employees say that feedback helps them improve their performance. Ask questions to find out how the policies and projects of the organization are affecting the workers. But apart from asking, a good leader must pay attention to workers' attitudes like level of participation during meetings, repeated complaints, suggestions, side comments, moods, etc., and take cues from them to improve working conditions.
Personnel must have the opening to raise concerns about work methods and challenges and have these issues empathetically addressed by the management. Regular review meetings can help with this. While these meetings are formal, a few out-of-office locations can benefit the team.
Workee encourages a culture of accountability
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Workee is an all-purpose business management software suitable for independent professionals and freelancers. The Workee tool is a suite of functions that enables you to automate vital business management processes, allowing you the time to focus on the core aspects of business delivery.
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