In any organisation, irrespective of the size, accountability is a management control process in which the employees take responsibility for their decisions, actions, and their consequences. Accountability is crucial to ensure high performance, optimal work standards, and securing the growth of the company.
Managers are responsible for the well-being of the employees when it comes to providing them with opportunities for their personal and professional growth. A manager is also responsible for the smooth working of a company. He/she keeps the best interests of the company in mind and guides the employees and understands their needs. If an employee is doing something wrong or is not meeting the company’s expectations, it is up to the manager to hold that person accountable for their behaviour and actions.
Many times, managers hesitate from doing so because they do not want to confront a particular employee. However, what they should understand is that not holding an individual accountable for his/her actions is not beneficial for the company. To improve employee outcome and create more value and market for the organisation, one should be able to hold themselves or others responsible for their actions.
When a manager doesn’t hold an employee accountable for his/her actions, the employee thinks that it is okay to not meet the company’s expectations and deadlines. Eventually, the employee stops taking his responsibilities seriously and may likely start taking things for granted. Also, such behaviour by one employee can send out the wrong signal to the rest of the team and demotivate them.
8 Actionable Tips to Preach Accountability at the Workplace
Now that we have understood how important it is for the managers to hold their employees accountable, let us see what actions every manager needs to take to keep their employees accountable.
1. Be clear with your expectations
The sense of accountability develops in an employee when he/she is certain about his/her duties and responsibilities and what is expected out of them. Right from the time of onboarding, managers should point out the metrics of success to the employees and also equip them with the tools to help them achieve that. All of this should be on paper as well so that it is easy for the manager and the employee to keep track. This is also the time when the manager should let them know that they can always seek assistance if they need any, but failing on those performance metrics without any valid reason will not be accepted.
2. Set smart and realistic goals
Many times, the goals are so unrealistic that the employees find it difficult to meet them. Set goals that are beneficial for the company as well as the employees. Don’t expect a new recruit to boost the sales 4x within a month of joining. Instead, break down the overall goals into smaller, easily achievable chunks. This will keep the employee motivated and help the manager gauge the performance.
3. Follow up on their work
A manager’s duty is not limited to conducting a meeting and expecting the employees to get the work done as soon as possible. After the meeting, set up a follow-up date so that you can keep a track of the work being done. This way, the employees will start working immediately and will not wait till the last minute. It will also ensure better performance and work efficiency. At the same time, don’t interfere too often in their daily work and give them the space to think and act independently.
4. Share honest feedback
Feedback plays a vital role in communication. If the manager sees that an employee is not doing his/her work properly, they should communicate this to him/her immediately instead of waiting for them to repeat the mistake. For example, if an employee is late to work and doesn’t have any valid explanation to justify their stand, hold them accountable.
While sharing the feedback, ensure your approach is constructive and doesn’t demean the employee. Also, keep the communication channels open so that the employees can share their feedback as well. Sharing feedback right from the start will not only help them improve but also establish that anyone who goes against the company rules and standards will have to face the consequences.
5. Do not lower the work standards
An employee should abide by the standards of the company. They should understand that they need to submit the work as and when the deadline is set. The quality of the work should improve with every project or task. The employee should also feel that he/she is growing and learning in the company. Do not let the overall work quality or culture be hampered because you are hesitating to hold an underperforming employee accountable.
6. Understand the difference between actions and results
Sometimes, a manager or a team leader gets confused between actions and results, and they hold employees accountable only for the results. For example, an employee works very hard but is not able to make any sales, then you, as a manager, should find the root cause of the problem. You cannot accuse him of being lazy or not performing well if he had put in efforts, but the real problem was somewhere else. Confront him regarding the problems he was facing and his perception of the underlying issue.
7. Confront the employees
Not everybody is good at confronting people, but when you have a team to handle, this is part of the job description. During such a conversation, it is important to keep yourself calm and discuss only the facts. Also, try to understand the motive behind the employee’s decisions and actions.
8. If an employee doesn’t improve, take the hard call
As harsh as this sounds, the manager has to take the drastic step of firing an employee if they don’t show any progress. If they’ve tried every possible way to guide the employee and help improve their work standards, but they still fail to, then fire them. Don’t wait for long as it will end up affecting the company’s morale and reputation. Firing an employee will send a strong message across the teams that individual actions will have consequences and that the employees will be held responsible for the work they do.
Most managers are afraid of holding the employees accountable because they think that it is a harsh step that can ruin the employee-manager relationship or even blemish the work culture. However, this is not true. Being open and honest will open up more channels of communication, and holding them accountable will help them become more responsible.
A manager doesn’t have to be harsh and unsympathetic as long as they can get their point across through facts and figures. But their employees should get the message that they are not above the company and won’t get away with intentional lags or inefficient work. This way, they will be respected and will also be able to help the company reach new heights.