4 keys to employee accountability

Accountability If you feel your employees are lacking accountability, you could very well be to blame. Maybe you falsely assume that because your employees are adults, they are accountable for their actions. Or you may think that because you’re the boss, employees will do what you say, no matter what.

Neither is true, and if you hold either belief, you likely aren’t doing your part to build a culture of accountability in your organization. Nor do employees feel responsible for their actions. It’s not a problem you can just ignore, so take these steps to boost accountability among all your employees:

1. Believe that people want to do well. Don’t assume people are just “slacking,” “taking advantage of you” or “being lazy.” Most employees want to meet their goals and even exceed your expectations. They just aren’t sure how to do so. Once you accept that your people aren’t purposely trying to sabotage the team, you can more clearly see your role in the problem and what you—and the employee—can do to improve their performance or behavior.

2. Leave no room for doubt. Define what you want to happen. Lay out both the goals and outcomes, and use highly specific language when assigning work. Make it impossible for employees to say they didn’t know what to do or how to meet expectations.

3. Stop assuming employees “get it.” Every employee can interpret your words differently; and even your smartest, most capable people can be confused sometimes. Always gain clarification from employees that they know exactly what to do and by when. That’s as simple as asking them to repeat back to you what you’ve asked them to do.

4. Point out issues in real time. If an employee misses a deadline, hands in shoddy work or fails to complete a task, talk to him or her immediately. Explain the problem and hold the employee responsible for correcting the issue both immediately and in the future. Don’t rely on email to communicate your concerns—or ignore it until a performance review—if you want to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

— Adapted from “Accountability in the Workplace,” Linda Finkle, www.linkedin.com.