Afraid of Accountability? Why it’s Vital to Your Company

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Accountability helps people be their best selves.

Ariel Cope | HR Director Tweet

Many people consider accountability bad because they think it will lead to punishment. But too often associated with negative consequences like probation or termination, accountability is crucial to a successful and high-functioning team. “Accountability helps people be their best selves,” said Ariel Cope, human resources director at The Next Step.

How did accountability become so misconstrued? Unfortunately, this perception may persist because leaders often only address accountability once it results in consistently poor performance or when client commitments are not met. This creates a toxic culture, making employees fearful of accountability.

Avoiding confrontation may be easier dealing with a difficult situation, but this approach often leads people into trouble. For example, supervisors and business owners may fear that addressing accountability will result in workforce turnover during a time when it is difficult to attract and retain talent. But this has the opposite impact. “Everyone wants growth and they want to continue to develop their skills,” Cope said. “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

Rather than spotlighting areas where employees have fallen short or made mistakes, proper accountability presents an opportunity for soliciting feedback from your workforce. “Let employees tell you what they believe they can or cannot do and why,” advises Steph Altom, employee testing and engagement specialist for The Next Step. “Accountability means that you invite their input.”

Tips for gathering useful input:

Actively ListenOne of the most important things you can do to understand your employee’s concerns is to actively listen to them. This means giving them your full attention, not interrupting, and asking clarifying questions to ensure you understand their perspective. Show empathy and acknowledge their concerns to help build trust and foster an open dialogue. Create a safe environmentEmployees may hesitate to share their concerns if they don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so. Create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up about their concerns without fear of retaliation or judgment. Encourage open communication and provide opportunities for feedback to help identify and address any issues. Surveys and feedback formsAnonymous surveys and feedback forms can be a great way to understand employee concerns. They allow employees to express themselves, without fear of consequences, and can provide valuable insight into areas that need improvement. Use the feedback to identify trends and patterns and implement changes to address any concerns. Previous Next

Accountability feels more authentic and less scary when it’s created in a positive working environment that fosters open communication and mutual respect.