It’s a big deal – particularly if you want an engaged team that will help grow your business. When your team can follow through on promises, and doesn’t play the ‘blame game’ – it makes all the difference in getting things done, and done well.
Taking responsibility for mistakes helps both the person and others learn and grow. And beyond mistakes, being accountable for hitting goals and milestones is vital to moving the ball forward in your company.
So, we know accountability is a good thing – but how can we grow the accountability muscle in our team?
Well, the fact is, accountability isn’t just for the team – you, as the leader, must be accountable as well. In fact, one of the best ways to reinforce an environment of accountability is to demonstrate it in your own actions and decisions.
When you team sees you taking responsibility for your work and delivering on your commitments, well then they’ll be more likely to follow suit. so be transparent about your own goals, take responsibility for your mis-steps, and hold yourself to the same standards you expect from your team (I might even say, hold yourself to a higher standard – after all, you are the leader).
Next, you can’t really expect someone to hit goals successfully if they don’t even know what the goals are. You have to set expectations by clearly communicating what you need from each role, what are their responsibilities and goals, do they understand what success even looks like and what outcomes are expected. What are their key performance indicators or KPIs. Having this kind of measure is the backbone of evaluating performance. After all – to paraphrase Peter Drucker “What gets measured gets done”
“…You might also think about using them to track progress on an Accountability wall or board. You could set up a physical or virtual accountability wall where team members can publicly track their progress“
One thing that’s often overlooked and underused is an accountability tool. Don’t’ be shy, or try to reinvent the wheel – use tools and software that can help you track progress and that, in turn, makes holding the team accountable much easier – and visible.
Now, it might include project management software like Asana or Trello, time-tracking tools like Harvest or Toggl, or communication platforms like Slack or Teams.
You might also think about using them to track progress on an Accountability wall or board. You could set up a physical or virtual accountability wall where team members can publicly track their progress, share achievements and as an extra added bonus here, you now have the (gentle) pressure of the group. Now people are holding themselves accountable to their peers; and they have a constant reminder of their individual and collective responsibilities and achievements.
Now, don’t forget my favorite – implementing processes and systems. I love SOPs and systems because they help ensure that everyone knows how things are done, how the game is played, how your company gets things done.
Sure, setting up SOPs takes some time and effort, but they pay out multiples in the end. And remember, not only can you, and should you, enlist the help of your team in writing SOPs – but don’t forget our favorite new friend…A.I. Now you shouldn’t just copy paste, but it can give you a masterful springboard to start with.
OK – this one is a necessary evil. You’ve got to establish consequences for non-performance. While it’s important to recognize and reward achievements, it’s also necessary to address instances of non-performance. If you don’t it can actually poison the whole team.
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You’ve got to clearly communicate the consequences of failing to meet expectations, whether it’s through formal performance reviews, disciplinary actions, or other measures. And then, you have to be consistent with enforcement. When you master managing the consequences part of the equation, it goes a long way in reinforcing the importance of accountability.
And finally – and I touched on this one before – encourage peer accountability. We want team members to hold each other responsible for their actions and outcomes. Encourage collaboration, task the team or member groups, with working on a project or issue and delivering a proposed solution.
And don’t forget feedback. Now team members giving one another feedback can be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. It’s all in the delivery. So don’t make them go it alone. Just like you (hopefully) provide training to help the team develop their skills, give them some training in how to provide feedback too. It grows their communication skills, and puts everyone in the same playbook.