I make my living teaching business communications - specifically I help people become more effective…
Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Accountability is the backbone of a successful BV Practice. It is not simply taking the blame when something goes wrong. It is about delivering on a commitment and responsibility to an outcome. It’s taking initiative with thoughtful, strategic follow-through.
When people feel accountable, they take ownership of the outcome, and they will work harder and longer to ensure that success is achieved.
When accountability is missing, performance, company culture, and morale all suffer. When you don’t hold employees accountable for missed deadlines, bad behavior, or poor performance, your credibility as a leader is damaged and loyalty from your team wavers. This ultimately impacts your ability to inspire high-performing, winning teams.
For practices with remote workforces, accountability is vital to achieving results. Having a team who can work from home and still stay productive, optimistic, and deliver on expectations is what will drive your practice to success.
Why do so many practice leaders struggle with holding employees accountable?
- They don’t set clear expectations and consequences for behavior.
- They want their employees to like them and want to avoid conflict.
- They are inconsistent with meeting commitments themselves.
Countless times my clients have asked me, “How do I get my people to be more accountable for results?”
- Set clear expectations. Be clear about the outcome you’re looking for, how you’ll measure success, and how your employees should go about achieving the objective. Have a genuinely two-way conversation, and before it’s over, ask the other person to summarize the important points to make sure you’re on the same page. Documenting the conversation in writing helps eliminate confusion about expectations.
- Hold your staff accountable for both actions and results. The salesperson who makes lots of calls is taking action; he is performing tasks. But if he is not selling, he fails on the results. Ensure everyone understands his or her role and responsibilities, and how that role affects the outcome of the company’s efforts.
- Set your employees up for success. Give your team the freedom and control they need to make decisions. Ask them if they have everything they need to be successful (skills, resources, tools, training, etc.). Once they say yes, then they have accepted accountability and ownership for the outcome. Be sure to add “if at any time you feel you need anything just come and ask.”
- Follow up. Provide timely feedback and evaluation along the way. If you don’t follow up you send the wrong message that what they are working on isn’t important.
- Be consistent. Be a role model and demonstrate accountability. Don’t enforce one time then not another, with one person and not another. Meet your own commitments and support your staff whenever necessary.
- Respond to outcomes appropriately. If your employee knocks it out of the park, make sure to recognize and reward her performance. If your employee fails to deliver, demonstrate that it’s ok to get it wrong occasionally. Encourage him to take responsibility instead of lay blame. Failure can be a useful learning tool and can guide toward greater success. Provide him with the right coaching and resources and give him another opportunity. If you have followed all the steps from coaching to counseling to written warnings, make the hard decision to let him go.
Make accountability part of your practice’s culture. When you hold your employees accountable for their successes and their failures, they feel invested in the business. The sense of ownership improves overall employee performance and drives organization growth.
Do you need help harnessing the power of accountability in your workplace? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.