Business Management / Culture

How to foster a culture of accountability in your organization

Max Woolf

Nov 24, 2020 · 4 min read

How to foster a culture of accountability in your organization

As nationwide remote work stretches on, keeping teams' morale and performance levels up is top of mind for most businesses today.

In this case, instilling a sense of accountability can help not only achieve just that, but also bolster your company’s culture, ensure stronger adherence to compliance, and make a significant impact on your bottom line.

Problem?

Making employees accountable doesn’t usually come easy for most organizations. In fact, a full 93 percent of workers aren’t aware of their organization’s goals, and another 85 percent of leaders struggle to define the scope of direct reports’ work.

Take heart.

This guide provides actionable tips on what you can do to make accountability part of your company’s DNA.

Tap into the power of OKRs

To make employees accountable for the outputs and outcomes of their work, it's essential to provide a structure for any and all tasks performed. Otherwise, without clear-cut alignment, businesses are likely to face missed deadlines and incomplete work, among other things.

That’s when the objectives-and-key-results (OKRs) framework outlined in Andy Grove’s book “High Output Management” comes to the rescue. One of the key advantages of introducing OKRs is that they help keep workers in the loop regarding the team- and company-wide goals. On top of that, OKRs help ensure everyone in the company knows exactly what deliverables they need on which to execute, as well as make each and every employee understand their role in the grand scheme.

Lastly, to reinforce OKRs and make sure all employees deliver on their amalgamated goals, it’s good practice for organizations to make use of collaboration/project management tools like Jira, Asana (for tiered and complex projects), or Trello (for simple tasks).

Schedule ongoing feedback and feedforward sessions

To enhance employee accountability or address the lack thereof, line managers need to provide ongoing feedback and feedforward to direct reports. It'll help them improve their performance, pinpoint critical skills their resume might lack, and become more accountable for their portion of work.

That said, feedback is a powerful tool. Give it wrong, and you'll unavoidably leave permanent scars and bruise a person's feelings. That's why it's best to follow a simple yet effective strategy and craft a feedback pitch before the meeting:

  • Write down the problem in one sentence.
  • List your main one or two messages you want to put across (feedforward).
  • List two to three main questions you want to ask.
  • Write down the desired outcome for the feedback meeting.
  • Right after the feedback session, it’s a good idea to email the direct report a summary of what you’ve discussed to prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

    Default transparency to open

    Among the core issues associated with accountability is that most employees don’t feel confident enough to voice their concerns, be it about the workload, overly tight deadlines, or obstacles that stand in their way. As a result, it leads to goals and expectations not being met. To address it, companies should spend a great deal of their energy to make transparency one of their core values.

    A good place to start is to foster a no-blame culture.

    While most managers might perceive failure as a major negative and call out employees' mistakes without extracting insights, it's essential to realize that the only thing people learn from being blamed is to be better at hiding their mistakes. In fact, failure is inevitable for businesses where there is a plethora of experimentation (e.g., startups). If staffers don't feel comfortable admitting to having made a mistake, transparency goes out the window.

    To counterbalance it and create a blame-free culture, companies can do the following:

  • Encourage line managers to focus on the problem, not the person.
  • Start seeing failures as learning opportunities for both employees and the company.
  • Empower leaders in the organization to take responsibility when things go south.
  • While transparency won't likely happen overnight, it's an integral component of making your organizational culture more accountable.

    Bio

    Max Woolf is a career expert at ResumeLab. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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