How to Instill Accountability in Employees
“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.”
There’s a lot of truth to this quote from author and business coach Bob Proctor. If you want your team to be productive, you’ll need more than their dedication. You need a way to keep them on track, identifying when they fulfill their obligations, when they fall short, and how to help them succeed.
Incorporating accountability into your workplace culture shifts responsibility from teams to individuals. Every employee is responsible for their own workload, meaning underperformers have nowhere to hide.
Not only can you readily spot those who aren’t working as hard as they could, managers can also reward their star performers, ensuring they don’t get lost in the mix but are properly recognized and rewarded.
An accountability culture is the opposite of a micromanaging culture. Instead of presuming employees need constant scrutiny and oversight, workers are trusted to perform their roles and are held accountable if they don’t. Empowering employees in this way drives engagement and motivation.
Tips for Keeping Employees Accountable
1. Determine what accountability looks like at your organization
Accountability, like productivity, can be a difficult thing to define. Everyone knows what the word means, but knowing how to put it into practice isn’t quite as straightforward.
Set clear expectations around the benchmarks you’re going to use to keep employees accountable. These should be as specific as possible, outlining not just job roles and goals, but also daily tasks.
Look at how your team works as a unit - who’s responsible for what, and what processes are they using to hand off their work to others or collaborate on joint tasks?
Before you can hold workers accountable, you have to make sure they’re set up for success. Give them the right tech tools to help them create seamless workflows, make sure you’re delegating effectively by picking the right people for the job, and let them know who to contact if they run into roadblocks.
2. Create an accountability matrix
Over 80% of managers say they have “limited to no” ability to hold employees accountable, according to one survey. Once you’ve defined accountability, don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen. You need a strategy to implement it across the board.
An accountability matrix, also known as a responsibility matrix, is a chart that clearly articulates the roles, assignments, and responsibilities each person has in a particular task. It’s a project management tool that’s used to keep teams on track by leaving nothing to chance.
Everyone involved is added to the chart, along with their level of involvement. This is commonly grouped into the following categories:
- Responsible - those directly involved in the task
- Accountable - those who are responsible for delegating and reviewing the work
- Consulted - those who provide feedback and guidance
- Informed - those who need to be kept in the loop but aren’t necessarily the decision-makers
Using an accountability matrix is a must for complex projects, giving managers a bird’s eye view of all the moving parts. If the project hits an obstacle, leaders will know immediately and can readily identify who is responsible.
3. Get employee buy-in
However you decide to define and track accountability, you’ll need your employees to be on board so they know where they stand.
The best way to encourage employee buy-in is to model that behavior yourself. Managers have to be ready to embrace accountability themselves, taking full responsibility when they miss the mark.
They should also be mindful of holding all their employees to the same standard - 70% of employees feel their managers aren’t objective when it comes to assessing their work. Accountability has to be applied across the board - giving Jane a break but cracking down on Robin will foster resentment, damage trust, and demoralize workers.
Don’t just focus on the negative aspects of accountability. When we think about holding people accountable, we tend to think of punishment rather than reward, but giving people credit when they do a good job is crucial to building buy-in.
Show your team that you are as invested in their success as they are. Schedule regular one-on-ones to build honest and open communication about their roles, responsibilities and roadblocks.
4. Use productivity monitoring
Employee productivity solution Prodoscore is a non-intrusive way to keep teams on track. The productivity monitoring software collects data about how employees are using core business applications such as email, CRMs, phone systems and more. This data is then aggregated into a single dashboard that makes trending data easily digestible and actionable.
With Prodoscore, managers can make data-driven decisions about what’s best for their team and their workflows. Monitoring activity in real-time allows leaders to quickly spot red flags that could indicate burnout, underperformance or other obstacles - helping them objectively assess performance and ensure accountability.