Culture of Accountability

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At some point, we are all responsible for something. Whether this be paying the bills, looking after a pet, managing a team or completing a project. Most people enjoy being entrusted with responsibility as this makes them feel valued.

Being accountable is about taking ownership of the outcome of events - even if it's negative - when directly related to something you are responsible for. For example, if you accidentally left the door to your house open, it’s possible that it could be burgled. You might say “I didn’t realise” or “So and so should have reminded me” or “ I was in a rush” which are all examples of diverting the blame elsewhere, when the fact is, YOU made the mistake and YOU were responsible for locking the door. 

A person who holds themselves accountable would acknowledge the fact that they made the mistake, learn from this and find solutions to stop this happening again, such as; the next time you leave the house, you double check you locked the door.


Accountability leads to High Performance

Being accountable is a trait of effective individuals and forms the foundation for many high-performing teams.  The benefits of accountability within a team include:

  • A Culture of Ownership - All team members take ownership of their quality of work, behaviours and actions, even if they’re not positive and work towards improvement and solutions.
  • Builds Trust in Individuals - Holding each other accountable and being accountable, shows that you can have honest conversations and rely on one another for the truth.
  • Increased Quality and Efficiency - When others hold you accountable for the outcome of completing a task, the quality of the end result is often higher and your efficiency at working towards the goal increases. This is because you are wanting to produce the best results possible for those people that are holding you accountable and know that they will rebuff any excuses you may have if you do not do what you said you would.


 How to build a ‘Culture of Accountability’

  • Establish clear ownership of tasks - Delegate specific tasks to individuals and make sure that others are aware of who is responsible for what. This will encourage individuals to take ownership of tasks they have been entrusted with and prevent them from diverting responsibility to others.
  • Solution Focused Thinking - One common scenario when managing teams is lateness, such as team members arriving to work late or coming back from break later than allowed. When discussing with said team member, you could say “The fact is you were 20-minutes late. How will you stop this happening again?” By focusing on facts and inviting them to create a solution themselves, you are able to hold them accountable should they not implement the solution they said they would use.
  • Hold each other accountable - Holding each other accountable isn’t about highlighting someone’s mistakes to make them feel bad. Holding one another accountable is to encourage ownership of one’s actions or behaviours. For example, if someone is procrastinating when a deadline is due, you could hold them accountable by asking ‘Is what you’re doing right now working towards the deadline?” Realising they are being held accountable, the person may either make excuses or raise a problem that is preventing them from moving forward. You can then take the necessary action to get them back on track.

As an individual, holding yourself and others accountable is one of the best methods for increasing productivity and building trust with others. When you stop making excuses and diverting blame, you stay focused on completing the task at hand which is a trait many people value, few struggle to do and is the type of person everyone wants to work with.

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