Four Steps To Creating a Culture of Accountability

One of the biggest — and most common — pitfalls in business is a lack of accountability. You can have a rock-solid strategic plan with clear areas of responsibility and measurable metrics, but if you don’t hold each other accountable, you won’t reach your goals.

If that sounds like your team, you’re not alone. I uncover accountability issues in many of the teams I work with, including some who are otherwise highly functional. The good news: It’s a relatively easy fix if you’re not afraid to say “the buck stops here,” “you can’t blame others” or “it’s your issue.”

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Accountability is the foundational ingredient in a healthy and sustainable culture — it promotes trust within a team. Some say that it’s the “glue that ties commitment to results.” When a team is accountable, every member knows his or her role, agrees to measurable goals and milestones, reports on results and is rewarded for positive performance. The newfound trust leads to better execution, lower turnover, more creativity and innovation, and exponential growth.

Here’s four steps to building a culture of accountability:

  1. Communicate your vision, values and goals. The entire team needs to know exactly what is expected of them. They should receive clear direction and immediate, constructive feedback.
  2. Reinforce and reward positive behaviors. Ensure team members have the skills and tools to succeed and are able to measure their own success. Recognize them for their accomplishments and also be candid when they don’t meet expectations.
  3. Incorporate accountability into the company DNA. Every team member, from the mail room to the CEO, needs to be accountable for his or her work.
  4. Model the behavior you want to see. Hold yourself to the same high-performance standards you expect from your team. Walk the walk.

When I work with teams, we include accountability check-ins during our regular meetings — I actually hold them responsible for fostering a culture of accountability in themselves and the people they lead. It can be a little uncomfortable at first, but soon everyone sees it’s creating a better work environment and they’re hitting all of their targets.    

Are you ready to make accountability a priority for your organization? As you transform your company’s culture, it will feel fundamentally different for you, your employees and everyone you serve.

Need some help getting started or have some ideas you want to share? Let’s have a conversation.