5 Keys to Promoting Accountability in Your Workplace

having a board meeting and discussing different topics

We are all, in part, the products of our environments. Imagine going into a workplace where no one ever takes responsibility for their actions, everyone is always trying to shift the blame, and dishonesty is rampant. Not only would you have a toxic experience, you’d likely begin exhibiting the same behaviours as everyone else – if not, you’d be held accountable for everything, while no one else would take responsibility. Accountability has to be company-wide. Here are 5 key steps to create a workplace where everyone is accountable:


Step 1: Clear Roles and Communication

The poison pill that kills accountability: “I didn’t know that was my job”. When roles aren’t clearly defined, no one knows who is managing what, and when you are unclear as to what your duties are, it’s easy to not feel accountable for problems – you literally didn’t think something was your responsibility. Clear structure and reporting relationships are integral to ensuring everyone knows what their role is, and who to go to with any problems or questions.


Step 2: Autonomy within Roles

Now that we have clearly defined boundaries, it’s important to give employees autonomy to perform their roles within those boundaries. The last thing you want to hear is “I would have hit my targets, but my hands were tied”. Employees should feel they have the right to ask questions, the right to bring up concerns, and that their concerns and questions will be addressed. They should also feel that they have the power to fulfill their duties – this is in part accomplished through a clear organizational structure, wherein the authority to delegate is clearly established. Give your employees the resources they need to complete projects and make sure they know that if they have a creative solution to a problem in their wheelhouse, they’re free to implement it and tell you about it.


Step 3: Ownership of Results

Any team is only as good as its members, and any organization is only as good as its teams. Making sure each team knows what it’s overarching targets are, and promoting a culture of camaraderie will help each individual team member strive to meet greater goals. There’s a lot of accountability inherent in a team structure – you feel bad if you’re lagging behind, letting the team down, but you feel great if you help push the team to new heights. Celebrate success!


You may have heard of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Ensuring that each goal encompasses these five metrics means that your employees will know why they need to reach a goal, what the exact goal they need to reach is, and when they need to get there. That way, they know what they are accountable for.


Step 4: Fair Remuneration

Imagine a world where, whether your results are stellar or terrible, there’s no change to your status. No promotions, no increased wages, no bonuses. There’s no doubt we want people to be intrinsically motivated; in fact, there’s a lot of evidence showing that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic motivation. That said, many have had the feeling that they’re stuck in an organization – that there’s no room to grow. This can lead to employees checking out, which breeds – you guessed it – a lack of accountability.


Step 5: Constant Dialogue

Have goals been met? Celebrate! Have goals been missed? Discuss. It’s not about punishing or penalizing – if you’ve developed a culture of accountability, your employees will already be disappointed, and extrinsic disappointment will only make them feel worse. Instead, focus on what they could do to improve, ask them to talk about the processes they took to obtain their goals, where they think they went wrong, and how they think they could do better. Offer insights of your own if you think they’re relevant, but remember – constructive criticism should be the focus.


Following these steps to improve accountability should improve your bottom line drastically – what’s nice about them is that they can be implemented for basically no cost. An efficient accountant in Winnipeg can actually help you measure how your accountability strategies affect growth – it’s practically in the name.