7 Steps to Create a Culture of Accountability

23 January 2017

Are you the type of worker who put in a hard day’s work but find that there are others that just don’t seem to have that same work ethic as you... or even care? Now that you are running your own business, considering a startup, or want to improve your current workplace, it is time to set get everyone on the same page. Follow these seven steps to ensure you create a culture of accountability.

1. Hold Yourself to the Highest Standard

We all had that boss that works the bare minimum while reaping the rewards of their team’s hard work and success - Do not be this type of boss. This is so critical, that it’s worth repeating. DO NOT BE THIS TYPE OF BOSS. This should be a no brainer, but sometimes this can happen without us knowing. Regardless of the amount of work you put in, your team will base their opinion on perception. If your team doesn’t see you in the trenches with them while work is piling up, they may start to resent you. This is why I, as well as many successful businesses, believe in transparency. Keeping everyone informed should prevent these misunderstandings from happening.

2. Resolve Any Issues… Right Now!

In the startup environment a lot of things can become off target; it comes with the territory, and is usually a sign of growth. What is more important than getting back on target, is how you recover from the issues that got you there. Adversity, and how you deal with it, will play an enormous role in shaping your culture. Most organizations create an internal policy outlining the requirements to follow-up and resolve issues. Whether it is written in policy, or communicated to your employees, your team must have a complete understanding of your expectations and how issues should be resolved . When an issue arises that will affect customers, that must become priority number 1.

3. Don’t Play the Victim

Although you may not realize it, we sometimes slip into the role of the victim. We make a mistake, and instead of owning up to it and work towards a solution, we try to find a reason why it’s not our fault. This tactic serves no one, and it will negatively impact the way you are viewed. As the person in charge, you need to head this behavior off before it becomes common. When you see an employee use this tactic, it is usually due to a stigma created at some point in their life surrounding mistakes. You need to make it clear that everyone in the organization will make mistakes. Treat them as opportunities to grow, not as a reason for discipline.

4. Be a Coach, Not a Critic

Holding others accountable does not mean that you should belittle them or criticize the way that they do things. What it does mean is you should have an open discussion with them about your expectations. An employee that is worth retaining will always want to hear from you if you think they are not meeting expectations. That employee will want to hear about it as soon as it becomes an issue. If you are able address the issue in a constructive way, it will allow you to keep a positive environment amongst everyone in the workplace. Remember to be a coach, not a critic. We want to coach our employees to be the best they can be.

5. Fake it Until You Make It – Keep Morale High

Sometimes morale can feel like a volatile meter that fluctuates with everyone’s mood. And while this may hold true in some cases, morale is actually very predictable. And the reason morale is predictable is because it is contagious. Negativity, and positivity, can spread like wildfire. We all know that one person who stares at the clock and complains about work. And we also know how that person makes us feel. Having to hear that day after day is surely to wear on even the most positive person. So to swing the balance in the other direction, you have to set the bar. You need to be so positive that your team will feel inadequate if they aren’t as positive as you. Now this can be hard. There are going to be days where you simply aren’t in a great mood. For these days, you have to fake it. A funny thing will happen after a while – You will actually become more positive from faking it. So when you are not feeling particularly positive, remember to fake it until you make it.

6. Actions Speak Louder Than Words – Trust the Team You Created

At some point after training new employees, you have to let them work unsupervised. Yet, where most managers and business owners fail is when their employee makes a mistake. Rather than trusting their ability and training, they run in to save the day. You may think you are helping the employee; however you are showing them you don’t trust their judgment. For accountability to work, you must trust that you put the team members in place to succeed.

7. Strategic Hiring… And Firing

Accountability is not something that can be done when it is convenient. You need to put the right people in place who are willing to buy in to your organization's message, and do whatever they can to ensure success. This may mean spending a bit more time hiring the right candidate; It will be so worth it in the long run. On the other side of that equation is terminating the wrong fit. Most business owners can actually recognize a team member that won’t work out. Far too often, however, they refuse to terminate them. This is no way to run a business, and you are being unfair to your other employees as well as the employee who is not working out. If you expect to create a culture of accountability, you have to hold yourself accountable for optimized staffing.

At the end of the day we are all going to fall on our face at one point or another. It is how we pick ourselves up and recover that will be the biggest factor. If you can create this culture of accountability, then you will create a team willing to put themselves out there without risk of ridicule and discipline.

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