4 Steps to Building a Culture of Accountability

Want to grow? Your employees and you need to own your areas of responsibility and perform well. Here are four steps to making that a way of being at your company.

learn more about Gwen Moran

By Gwen Moran • Mar 3, 2014 Originally published Mar 3, 2014

Shutterstock

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When it comes to managing your company and serving your customers, you need to be confident that things are getting done. If you don't build a culture of accountability, holding your employees and yourself responsible for behavior, follow-through and values, it could soon start affecting your bottom line.

Julie Miller and Brian Bedford, co-founders of Austin, Texas-based leadership-consulting firm MillerBedford Executive Solutions, say that building a culture of accountability is among the most important areas contributing to long-term success. Entrepreneurs can't do it all alone – it's critical that your employees understand how they contribute to the organization and feel responsibility for delivering in that role, Miller says. In their book, Culture Without Accountability—WTF: What's the Fix?, they discuss four key elements to building such an environment within your company.

1. Share your vision. Your employees "need an absolutely clear idea of what you expect," says Bedford. If you have trouble explaining the company's values and goals, as well as what you expect from every employee in each job function, it's hard to demand that your employees understand it. Being able to give crystal-clear direction and constructive feedback is the starting point of accountability.

2. Bring it to life. Just because you've shared your vision doesn't mean everyone's going to immediately "get" it. It may take some time. You may need a training program to teach people the skills they need and how to measure their own success. It's also important to reward the behaviors you want to replicate. And, sometimes, you may have to "pull a few weeds" if some employees are particularly resistant or don't want to adapt to the accountability shift.

Related: How to Snap Back After You Blow Up at Your Staff

The duo recommend the S.I.S. feedback model, where you explain the situation, explain the impact, and then suggest an alternative behavior. For example, explaining to an employee that when he continually schedules morning meetings, then arrives late, it affects productivity and meeting outcomes. That might be followed up by a suggestion that he either allow more time for commuting or shift his meetings to accommodate a more realistic arrival time.

3. Weave it into the fabric of your organization. Accountability should be expected in every role. Communicate your expectations around roles and responsibilities and how you'll measure success. When you give employees those tools, they are able to have a good sense of their own performance levels and can better hold themselves accountable for those expectations. Give regular feedback so employees can constantly improve, but be sure they see that you're doing so for everyone.

"When an employee sees that you're giving feedback to everyone for the good of the group and not just picking on [him or her], it's received much more openly," Miller says.

4. Model the behavior you seek. If you begin to talk about accountability for others and aren't holding yourself to the same standards, your words will ring hollow. Be sure you're setting your own performance standards and acting the way you want people in your company to act. When you fall short, talk about how you're improving and continuing to live the accountability that you expect from others.

Related: How to Handle Multiple Employees Having Babies All at Once

Gwen Moran

Writer and Author, Specializing in Business and Finance

GWEN MORAN is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Survey: A Majority of Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Sixty-four percent of U.S. consumers live paycheck to paycheck — even those who earn more than $100,000 a year.

Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.

Business News

Out With the Kibble and In With the Steak. The World's Richest Dog Has a Net Worth of $400 Million – And a New Netflix Docuseries Too

'Gunther's Millions' is set to unpack the pooch's mysterious fortune and what those around him have done with his inheritance.