3 Ways to Hold Employees Accountable for Their Career Growth

Employees want you to hold them accountable to goals that will further their career.

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By Rahul Taparia


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It can be tough finding a balance between micromanaging and being too hands-off, especially when it comes to guiding employees who want to grow within the company. So, how can employers guide them and hold them accountable without being too bossy?

Advancement opportunities are incredibly motivating. The 2014 Global Workforce Study by Towers Watson found that career advancement opportunities are among the top driving forces for employees. The truth is that employees want to be held accountable for their own career development.

Let's take a look at how employers can shift the accountability to employees, who want to learn and grow.

1. Help them set goals.

Goal setting is crucial to success, and employers can guide their staff to set goals that are SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. However, employees want to set their own goals, not have others impose their own agendas.

Help them develop a personal statement, identify their values and then translate those into specific, actionable tasks. The main issue people have with setting goals is actually following through and sticking to their habits.

Related: This is Why You Need to Let Your Best Employees Go

To prevent them from losing their motivation, be sure employees are writing their goals down. University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson calls this "self-authoring." His 2010 study found that students, who utilized goal-setting practices that involved writing, saw a significant improvement in academic performance.

While the act of writing and revisiting goals is indeed effective at helping employees feel accountable, how do they maintain that level of accountability to the outside world?

2. Create a supportive environment.

The work environment must be supportive and encourage a high level of accountability. People need to give their word to others around them just as they set expectations on themselves. This way, when they feel tempted to falter, they let down others as well, which is a social pressure most people don't like to fall under.

With all this talk about sticking to their guns, employees need to also approach this business of self-leadership and motivation in a fun, lighthearted way. Focus on creating a culture and workspace that facilitates pleasant activities so people don't feel trapped in formality.

For example, host a morning huddle where employees pass around a ball to whoever is talking. It helps lighten the mood, speed up the meeting and engages everyone.

Accountability is not forced compliance. It's not about pressuring people into doing what someone else wants them to do and resorting to authoritative measures to combat resistance. Accountability is support. It's achieved when everyone can openly set commitments, and share their feelings.

Related: How to Create Paths to Career Advancement That Matter to Your Employees

The workplace needs a social element, like an internal online platform or a bulletin board, where people can share their updates on progress and motivate one another. Create a forum that invites regular updates to empower everyone to achieve their goals.

It's no surprise that sharing new developments while working toward a goal increases a person's rate of success. According to a Dominican University of California study, more than 70 percent of the participants, who sent weekly updates to friends, reported successful goal achievement compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves without writing them down.

Make an effort to establish the big picture - the purpose driving the actions and commitment. Accountability is preceded by purpose. Without it, employees may lose sight of why they're pursuing their aspirations.

3. Hire coaches.

Staying focused on purpose requires more than just writing and sharing successes and setbacks with others. This is where coaches come in.

Personal coaches help educate employees on methods of achieving their goals, create action plans, establish habits and routines that align with their goals and hold them accountable. They specialize in motivating employees and guiding them toward success.

Related: Find a Business Mentor -- or Fail Trying

They also help employees develop new skills, improve their confidence, manage their time, become more decisive and cope with stress. What it comes down to is the power of personalization.

When employees are assigned unique, specific strategies and must report to a professional coach on a regular basis, they are more engaged in their plan and focused on achievement. The challenge is far more enjoyable when a trained coach delivers expert advice on how to optimize time and build the professional and personal life employees want.

Rahul Taparia

Founder of MyWorkNinja

Rahul Taparia is the founder of MyWorkNinja, a business and life coach service that provides instant access to top ICF coaches, enabling professionals and entrepreneurs to bring their best work to the world. Follow MyWorkNinja on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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