Having a culture of accountability means that results are communicated and understood by everyone. When mistakes are made, employees work to solve the problem and learn how to do better. They feel a sense of ownership in company results and do what it takes to attain their goals. Because top professionals want themselves, and others, to be held accountable, here are four ways to build a culture of accountability.
Hire Accountable People
How individuals perform affects how the team performs. Because accountability comes from the top, you want solid, consistent leaders who demonstrate and reward accountable behaviors in themselves and others. When interviewing, look for candidates who take responsibility. Because past behavior is the greatest predictor of future behavior, look for each candidate’s previous actions and their results to determine how they may perform under similar circumstances. For instance, which types of roles did the candidate hold in the past? Did they seek out leadership positions in school, personal pursuits or previous jobs? Ask for specific situations where the candidate showed accountable behaviors, such as when they failed at something despite careful planning. Find out what they learned, how they resolved the situation, and what they would do differently in a similar situation. Or, ask about a time when the candidate honored a commitment or did the right thing despite the fact that the action resulted in personal hardship. Listen to determine whether the candidate blamed someone else, made excuses, or took responsibility for the outcome.
Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Clarify your company’s expectations and goals so employees know exactly what they are working toward. Include measurable milestones to determine whether those expectations are being met. Let employees have a say in goal-setting to provide a sense of buy-in for the results. Ensure the goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-constrained. Make sure progress and results are regularly measured, tracked and reviewed with employees, such as at weekly or monthly meetings, to determine whether each employee and the team are on track or changes need to be implemented. Delegate a proper amount of authority to employees whose key decisions will affect team results.
Fix Issues Rather Than People
When issues arise, focus on resolving them rather than placing blame. People initially may feel vulnerable and become defensive knowing they’re being held accountable for their results. Help them feel safe by addressing the issue rather than who caused it. If an expectation isn’t met, talk with employees about how they can perform better. Help them create an action plan to address the deficiency. Provide coaching as needed.
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