5 Ways to Increase Team Accountability

5 Ways to Increase Team Accountability

As businesses reopen following stay at home orders, it’s going to be more important than ever for teams to work together effectively. And, part of what makes teams effective is being held accountable for results.

So, ask yourself, what do you do to hold your team accountable? What percentage of the time do team members follow through on commitments? What about you? And, do you consistently take action when commitments aren’t met?

If your (honest) answers to those questions aren’t what you’d like them to be, you’re not alone. According to a Harvard Business Review study, one out of every two managers struggle with accountability. This includes everyone from middle managers up to C-level executives.

Holding yourself and your team accountable is key to getting your desired results. However, enforcing accountability comes with its fair share of challenges. Maybe you’re worried about how you’ll be perceived as a leader. Maybe you’re someone who likes to focus on the positive or celebrate employees’ strengths instead of their weaknesses. Whatever the reason, stop putting accountability on the back burner. Here are five ways to start today:

1. Identify those that struggle with accountability
An accountability problem is probably fairly obvious, but some indicators include missing deadlines, repeating the same mistakes and inconsistent quality of work. While your initial response to these behaviors may be to micromanage or take on the task yourself, what you want is for your team to feel a sense of responsibility and commitment when it comes to their work. You can promote this by…

2. Setting clear expectations
Accountability should not happen after the fact. Your desired outcome for a project should be clearly communicated upfront. Be as detailed as possible. What are the deadlines? How and when will you be checking in on progress? What is your action plan to get the desired results? The goals you set should be attainable and measurable, so your team has a clear outcome they’re working towards. Once your expectations are set…

3. Ensure your team has the resources needed
Nothing sets a project off on the wrong foot like having unrealistic expectations for your team. Part of defining your goals should include how you will achieve them. Make sure your team has enough time to meet their deadlines and the right tools to get their work done efficiently. In addition to homing in on the details, it’s also helpful to…

4. Create broader connections
It’s easy to get bogged down by the monotony of everyday work and feel unmotivated or a lack of purpose. For each new project, try to find a few points of connection to a broader company initiative or vision or maybe find something your team can connect with on a more personal level. This tie to “something greater” will help your team feel a stronger sense of responsibility and purpose. And most importantly…

5. Provide ongoing and honest feedback
Your team needs to know where they stand in order to improve. Providing constructive criticism may not come easily to you but it is necessary to promote change and accountability. Conversely, make sure you’re also giving positive feedback when it’s deserved. Most importantly, don’t wait until the end of a project to evaluate the work your team has done. Major errors can be avoided by catching mistakes early on.

The Bottom Line
Holding yourself and your team accountable isn’t an easy task. However, without accountability, every aspect of your business will suffer. If accountability is a problem on your team, step up and improve it by identifying individuals who lack accountability, set clear expectations, provide adequate resources, connect work to the big picture and offer constructive criticism along the way.