Accountability is a big concern for driving performance and achieving success in any organization. It ensures that individuals and teams take ownership of their responsibilities and deliver their best work. By holding employees accountable for their actions and outcomes, organizations foster a culture of excellence and more effectively achieve their goals. A lack of accountability can be a stumbling block in effectively meeting deadlines, hitting company goals and even in driving employee development and satisfaction.
Below, we explore five ways accountability improves performance at organizations and tips to create a culture of accountability.
What is accountability?
Accountability in a workplace setting is the willingness and ability to answer for one’s actions and results. It’s about being answerable to the organization as a whole, other colleagues and yourself.
Creating accountability in your organization is one of the first steps in building a high-performance team. For individuals to be accountable for their work, decisions and actions, you need to first equip and empower them to do so. This means that leadership and management have to set clear goals, monitor performance and set an example of accountability across the organization, which can be harder than it sounds.
Many organizations may confuse accountability with responsibility. The biggest difference is that responsibility deals with individual tasks, while accountability is ownership over the results of those tasks. An employee may be responsible for delivering a report by the end of the week, for instance. They can show accountability for that responsibility by making sure the report is delivered, asking for a deadline extension or creating follow-up tasks that may ensue after the report is delivered.
How does accountability improve performance?
There’s a strong link between accountability and performance for employees. When individuals and teams are held accountable for their actions and decisions, their performance, and that of the organization, can improve in big ways. Some of the ways accountability improves performance include:
1. Establishing clear expectations
The baseline of creating a culture of accountability is clear expectations. Individuals and teams need to understand their roles, the extent of their tasks and how their individual contributions fit into a bigger picture. This requires different levels of accountability: Leadership and managers need to be clear about setting goals and expectations, while individual contributors need to be accountable for their ability to complete tasks.
Employees can only be accountable for their work if they have clear deadlines and quality standards to meet. This means that leadership and managers have to be effective in laying out plans and goals, as well as communicating those expectations to employees.
2. Promoting transparency
When individuals and teams know their responsibilities and who’s accountable for what, they’re more transparent with each other about their work. Instead of wasting time pointing fingers at projects that have gone past deadlines or aren’t up to quality standards, team members can be clear about what went wrong and who may need more help.
Beyond clearly communicating goals, leadership also needs to stand by their decisions. Accountability in the workplace helps promote a culture where leaders learn to make better decisions based on data and steer the organization with a longer view to the future, rather than making snap decisions.
3. Fostering trust
Accountability in the workplace also increases trust between colleagues as well as between employees and their supervisors. When employees know they have to take responsibility for their actions at the same level as their colleagues, they’ll be more willing to trust that all team members will complete their tasks.
Increased trust also improves a team member’s willingness to ask for help from managers or other colleagues. When employees are encouraged to have personal accountability for their work, they can seek help when they need it instead of waiting for negative feedback or being afraid they’ll be blamed for something out of their control.
4. Boosting engagement and satisfaction
When an individual employee feels responsible for their work, has clear expectations and trusts their colleagues and leadership teams, they’re more likely to be engaged and satisfied. Employee engagement is a major driver in productivity and company success, and employee satisfaction also dictates a company’s ability to retain or recruit employees.
Fostering accountability provides your organization with a way to reward employees for a job well done, gives them with a clear understanding of their roles and gives them connection to the organization’s broader ideals. It also helps reduce unbalanced workloads.
5. Identifying areas for development
A culture of accountability empowers teams to create systems to help them understand where processes or procedures may need improvement. If employees are regularly unable to meet deadlines or quality standards, leadership can figure out why that is and find ways to fix the issues. This leads to better training, technology and tools for the whole organization.
Employee productivity monitoring software like ActivTrak provides data and insights into effective or ineffective work processes. For instance, productivity dashboards can show the team how long it takes for tasks to be completed, what times of day are most productive and what distractions may be keeping employees from meeting deadlines. Workplace productivity metrics also help the team with workload balance to support employees who may be overworked have some tasks moved off their plates.
Establish accountability and improve performance with ActivTrak
Ready to create accountability and transform it into tangible results within your organization? ActivTrak offers employee monitoring and productivity management tools to provide your team with valuable insights into how and when teams are performing their best, allowing you to take a first step toward building team accountability.
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