In the not-too-distant past, accountability was the cornerstone of businesses. Regardless of level, employees risked termination if they didn’t meet the stated standards.

Surprisingly today, accountability is the primary finger-pointing complaint I hear from senior managers and employees.

“Partners in Leadership” research on “Workplace Accountability” underscores this, revealing that 93 percent of surveyed employees say they don’t understand what their organization is trying to accomplish, so they can’t align it with their work products. Moreover, one-third of employee priorities change frequently, creating confusion and missed deadlines.

Additionally, 84 percent of employees cited their leader’s behavior as the most adverse factor influencing their view of accountability. 

Numerous employees are fuming, feeling companies are using accountability as a weapon against them, especially when projects are ever-moving and targets remain vague.

Leaders and employees showcasing accountability generate a positive and productive work environment.

What can you, an employee, do to contribute to a culture of Accountability…?

Rules of Engagement: First, initiate the necessary conversation when given an assignment with deadlines. After all, you’re the only one who knows the totality of what you are currently answerable for accomplishing. Clarify expectations and avoid potential pitfalls arising from differing or unrealistic expectations. It’s up to you!

Adopt An Ownership Mindset: Go beyond mere accountability. Relate to your position from a higher frame of reference. You own everything based on urgencies, not merely seeing a task “as what’s next.” Instead, recognize the strategic impact each will have on the company’s profitability and future, which becomes your next project to execute. And don’t forget to communicate your reasoning.

Completion/Results Motivated: Embrace a mindset centered on meeting deadlines, honoring agreements, and fulfilling obligations. Having this mindset is a career booster and contributes to a Thriving work environment! So, drive for the outcomes you know must be done. And then, celebrate a job well done.

Why put your focus on these practices…? Because your personal and professional success hinges on accountability. It’s in your hands!

Presuming you’re also a manager/leader of people, recognizing that in addition to holding yourself accountable as an employee, you’re answerable for fostering a culture of accountability in others. That’s a tremendous responsibility!

For managers/leaders, what can I do to contribute to a culture of Accountability…? 

“Both Ways” Communication: Facilitate open and honest interactions between boss and employee. It is crucial to generate upward channels for staff to address their concerns. This “Both Ways” commitment breeds integrity in your accountability expectations, leading to the overall success of the project, boss, staff, and organization.

Champion Clarity: Prevent chaos and assumptions by regularly providing feedback to identify areas for improvement, ensuring everyone stays on purpose and frustrations are minimized. Faced with undefined or ever-changing deadlines, remember that employees will become disengaged, setting up an environment of failure.

Extend Trust: Accountability Thrives on trust. Demonstrating reliance on your staff to get the job done fosters commitment and confidence. This winning formula signals reliance on them to do the job. Trusting brings out the best in others. It enhances engagement, ownership, and morale. Ultimately, such an attitude leads to better results.

Respectful Correction: Embrace challenging conversations. At its best, accountability addresses missed deadlines or subpar performance with respect. Avoiding these conversations perpetuates mediocrity, undermining the commitment to excellence that a leader should never encourage.

Creating an environment where accountability is central throughout the organization is the greatest gift a manager/leader can give.

Ultimately, it’s everyone’s responsibility to cultivate accountability in business to promote a positive and thriving work environment.