Accountability is one of those buzzwords that everyone knows is important, but not everyone is sure their teams actually exhibit it. Accountability — the shared responsibility of each individual in your organization for the execution of plans and achievement of goals — is a critical part of your success because it ensures that projects are completed to a high quality and in a timely manner, strengthening relationships with your clients and driving your organization forward.
With the mass transition to virtual workplaces in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has never been more important to keep team members accountable. But that’s easier said than done. It takes the right leaders, with the right skills, to foster a culture of accountability and encourage greater personal responsibility among team members.
Continue reading to learn more about what makes an accountable leader and how to inspire accountability on your teams.
How do you hold team members accountable for results?
Effective leaders don’t just tell their teams what to do and leave it at that — they encourage, inspire and deliver. Senior managers have to set clear expectations from the very beginning. Every person on your team needs to know what their role is, when they need to complete tasks, and how their success and contribution will be measured.
Once project results are known, leaders need to sustain confidence and motivation by celebrating wins but also pointing out mistakes or errors, offering constructive feedback and putting plans in place to prevent them from happening again. Team members will feel motivated to continue delivering quality results while at the same time working diligently to prevent future errors.
The importance of accountability in a remote environment
Most companies were forced to shift online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But even after the virus is brought under control, many companies are expected to transition to fully remote or hybrid work models. Accountability is even more important in a remote setting because virtual work can make it extremely difficult to establish and maintain a culture of responsibility. Face-to-face interaction is severely limited, reducing the amount of time employees can talk about work in casual, low-pressure settings. This also limits opportunities for employees to build camaraderie and trust, a critical ingredient in generating effective accountability among teams.
Creating accountability in remote environments
Accountability issues can create lasting problems for organizations. Projects are disorganized, deadlines are missed, trust takes a hit and dissatisfaction sets in. To prevent this type of behavior from taking hold in your remote workplace, you need to give special attention to your processes so that accountability doesn’t take a hit, even when employees aren’t interacting on a constant basis.
Ensure that every role and responsibility is clearly defined and every member of your team has a solid grasp of what is expected of them. Consider investing in a project management platform to help facilitate this process. At the end of the day, communication is key. It might be a good idea to hold daily meetings with team members to get status updates and ensure projects are making the progress they need to hit deadlines.
What skills help a leader inspire accountability?
- Trust: Leaders have to be people every employee actually believes in and wants to work for. Employees need to be able to trust the sincerity of the words and actions of their leaders to truly buy into what they’re doing.
- Communication: Expectations will go unheeded or simply misunderstood unless they are clearly conveyed from leadership to every employee. A good leader knows how to communicate in a way that is easily understood without skimping on any necessary details.
- Delegate: Effective leaders know when they need to delegate some of their responsibilities to other members of the team. Delegation can play an important part in promoting accountability because it demonstrates to team members that you trust them to handle important tasks, while at the same time giving them ownership in the overall team performance.
Building greater accountability among your team
- Define your goals: Nothing hampers effective accountability more than a mixed message and an unclear set of objectives. Define your vision for the organization and establish a clear set of targets and, importantly, a plan for achieving them. This will help give employees a sense of direction that will better define where they fit into the broader vision.
- Involve team members: One of the most effective ways to make team members feel accountable is to give them a stake in the formation of goals and targets. When employees help set objectives, it makes them better equipped and more motivated to contribute to the achievement of team goals.
- Celebrate wins: Team members want to know and feel that their contributions are noticed and appreciated, so it’s important to frequently take opportunities to offer praise and celebration for positive results, key contributions or just plain hard work. Team members will feel inspired and motivated to continue delivering quality work.
- But acknowledge mistakes: Just as it’s important to celebrate wins, it’s equally important to acknowledge and learn from mistakes. Casting blame on a team member for an honest mistake helps nobody, and it only discourages them from trying again. Instead, acknowledge the effort, and take action to prevent a repeat of the same mistake.
At The Bailey Group, we understand that every leader and leadership team is different. In each of our client relationships, our coaches take the time to fully understand an organization’s specific needs and objectives to help prepare its leaders to tackle their next challenges. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.