Every business owner loves an employee that goes above and beyond expectations. She takes responsibility, shows initiative and happily steers the ship when it comes to her own projects and problems. While it’s likely that this is an intrinsic trait for many, it’s also possible to teach employees to be accountable for themselves. You can’t make them feel accountable, but you can build an environment where it’s encouraged. An accountable workplace won’t appear overnight, but there are steps you can put into place. So where do you need to invest your time and attention? Here are my top three tips:
#1: Create clear roles, team leadership and individual ownership… Ambiguity about roles and processes creates “That’s Not My Job”-itis. Removing as much confusion as possible about who does what and how they should do it is an important step to creating accountability. When a team is truly accountable, members will identify gaps, learn new roles, and ultimately upskill and become a more capable team.
To create team accountability, focus on team processes. How is the team working towards their goals and KPIs? Are all team members effective? Each member should have the obligation to seek information (not just have everything handed to them), as well as opportunities to give and receive feedback.
#2: Give freedom, support and control to navigate competing priorities… Most problems have multiple solutions, so give your employees the freedom and control they need to make decisions – you shouldn’t put yourself in the position where you need to approve every single little thing. When meeting as a team, the first solution your team comes up with will probably be pretty good. Improve upon it instead of creating your own. This type of support is key. It will increase your team’s skills, confidence and ownership of their roles.
#3: Create the expectation of evaluation…. In accountable organizations, no one expects to stay under the radar or go unnoticed. In fact, in accountable organizations people seek feedback because they know it is intended to help them, not criticise them. The most successful use multiple forms of feedback and evaluation though – try a combination of techniques such as 360 degree appraisals, goal-based reviews and performance reviews.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make accountability a compelling offer to your team. Helping them perform to their best abilities is not only good for their self-confidence, but crucial to your reputation and bottom line.