Effective Strategies to Hold People Accountable at Work

Holding Employees Accountable: A Manager's Guide Leadership and Management

Holding teammates accountable is essential to fostering clear expectations, ensuring objective alignment, promoting growth, and accomplishing business goals. But when called in, it’s important to move with empathy and to avoid attacking the person as a whole.

It’s not just supervisors who can address deadbeats, downers and jerks—everyone can do it by providing clear feedback and creating uncomfortable, but necessary consequences.

The Art of Holding Someone Accountable

It’s important to note that holding someone accountable requires empathy and careful consideration. This isn’t the same thing as “being mean,” but rather, it’s a process of fostering responsibility by being clear with an employee about their actions and the impact on their team. It’s also a great idea to have open communication and to co-design expectations so that you aren’t left trying to figure out what went wrong in an emotional conversation.

In some cases, it may be necessary to implement consequences. However, before doing so, it’s vital to ensure that the employee is actually capable of improving their performance. This is typically done by examining the gap between expectations and performance. The goal of this exercise is to discover if there was an actual mismatch between tasks and outcomes or if it was more of a case of a lack of motivation, confusion, inadequate training, or other factors that could have contributed to a shortfall.

If you are concerned that an employee isn’t capable of improving their performance, you might be tempted to resort to anger in order to force them to take responsibility for their actions. However, this only creates a vicious cycle that leads to a lack of productivity and frustration for everyone involved. Rather, it’s far more effective to provide clear feedback about the desired outcome and explain the consequences of their behavior.

If you’re struggling with holding someone accountable, you may find it helpful to have a coaching session. Our expert coaches can help you navigate this delicate and complex process and develop a leadership style that supports accountability. Contact us for more information.

Steps to Foster Accountability in Teams

A successful team requires a culture of accountability, where teammates hold each other accountable to deliver on commitments. This involves creating a psychologically safe system where teammates can be honest about issues that arise and take risks to come up with solutions, even if those don’t work out. It also involves creating a system where team members can feel confident that if they fail to meet expectations, they won’t be punished or judged by their managers.

One way to foster accountability is by encouraging team members to communicate openly and frequently, especially around work-related issues. This can include hosting daily meetings, asynchronous online discussions, or regular one-on-ones to discuss progress on projects and issues. Creating this communication structure allows everyone to be aware of challenges and setbacks, and ensures that anyone who needs extra support can ask for it.

It’s also important to provide constructive feedback to team members on a consistent basis. This helps them understand how their performance is impacting the team’s results, and provides a window into what changes might be necessary to improve their accountability. It’s important to avoid being overly critical or pedantic in this process, as it can have a negative effect on morale.

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It’s equally important to offer team members manageable goals that they can reliably achieve. This is a good way to help them build their capacity and motivation, as they will be more likely to succeed when they know they can hit their targets. Providing them with resources and tools they may need to accomplish these goals can be helpful as well. Whether it’s tutorials, articles, or other support resources, providing them with the materials they need to succeed will help promote accountability.

Cultivating Mutual Accountability Among Peers

Developing a culture of accountability is a team effort that requires everyone to pitch in. Ultimately, peer-to-peer accountability is the most effective method for keeping people accountable, but it requires mutual trust and respect to be productive. To cultivate this kind of mutual accountability, you need to have healthy relationships with your colleagues and discuss goals in ways that are supportive and appropriately challenging.

When team members feel like they have a strong support system in place, it’s easier for them to be open about issues and address problems without resentment. This creates a level of transparency that helps to keep people accountable because they know that others care about their performance.

Another way to encourage mutual accountability is to make sure that your goals are manageable and measurable. This is important because it’s easy to develop an over-ambitious goal that is impossible to meet, and when you set unrealistic expectations for your team, it makes it difficult to hold them accountable. When it comes to setting goals, consider using SMART techniques, which are strategies for creating manageable and attainable objectives.

Finally, when you are calling someone in to discuss an issue, remember to focus on the behavior or action and not the person. This is important because people can react to being called out on their behavior by interpreting it as a reflection of their inherent character or personality. By separating the person from the behavior, you can have an objective conversation that shapes accountability procedures.

When you are able to shape accountability procedures, your team will be more likely to meet their goals and achieve great results. Implement these five strategies to foster a culture of accountability in your organization, and watch as your team thrives.

Exploring the Meaning of Being Held Accountable

When you’re calling someone in to hold them accountable, it’s important to move through the conversation with empathy. They may perceive being called in as a personal attack on their character or personality, but they need to understand that the harm they caused was the result of their words or actions, not their inherent value as an individual. This helps them see the connection between their behavior and the impact it had on the project, team, or company.

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This is the best way to ensure that everyone understands that the goal of holding individuals accountable is to improve project outcomes, not damage relationships or erode morale. It also enables them to accept the consequences of their actions without feeling defensive or overwhelmed.

The other reason to foster a culture of accountability is that it can help motivate your team members. When they know that their efforts are being monitored, it’s more likely that they will strive for operational excellence and take initiative to improve their performance. This is especially true when employees are recognized for their accountability by receiving promotions or bonuses based on their accomplishments.

Finally, a healthy culture of accountability promotes peer support in the workplace. When peers are held accountable by managers, they can encourage one another to be at their best and work together to meet deadlines.

To start cultivating a culture of accountability or to address a lack of it, use tools like Wrike to make sure that everyone is following through on their commitments. By assigning action items during meetings, you can keep track of what has been completed and who needs to follow through on any outstanding tasks. This approach to accountability can boost task ownership and boost productivity.

Practical Tips for Managerial Accountability

Ideally, each member of your team should feel they are accountable to other people. That means they make promises they intend to keep, take responsibility for their actions (both good and bad), and are willing to speak up if something isn’t right. This type of accountability creates an environment where everyone is committed to working hard to meet the needs of others in the company, resulting in a well- functioning work team.

Unfortunately, 25% of managers report that their teams lack this sense of accountability. This is due to a number of issues, such as unclear expectations or shared accountability that diffuses responsibilities. The solution to these issues is simple: clarifying the goals, responsibilities, and standards for each person on your team. To do this, you should provide clear and specific information, such as the dates and times of meetings and deadlines. You should also communicate the consequences of not meeting your standards.

Another way to boost accountability is by delivering constructive feedback and providing opportunities for growth. While this may be difficult, it is important to give your employees the tools they need to improve. For example, you can ask probing questions about their behavior and performance to uncover any inconsistencies that could be holding them back. You should also share your own experience, such as a time you made a mistake and what you learned from it.

Accountability is a vital skill for managers to have, but it can be challenging to do effectively. You must be able to have honest conversations with your employees without resorting to shame, anger, or defensiveness. This is why you need to practice these skills on a regular basis, so you can have the confidence and ability to hold your employees accountable when necessary.

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