Skip to main content

A culture of accountability is essential to organizational success.

While adopting a “winning” culture has a powerful impact on individual performances, it does not necessarily foster accountability, nor does it empower employees to take ownership.

What can leaders do today to empower their people to take ownership and develop high levels of trust within their immediate team but throughout all levels of the organization?

Here are six tips to help you strengthen your workplace into one that has a culture of accountability.

1. Understand What Drives Individuals and Teams

To inspire a culture of accountability, you first need to identify what that looks like for each person.

What inspires and motivates your employees?

How do they learn?

Can you identify character strengths that are complimentary when working in teams?

A sense of competition can overwhelm team cohesion in an employee’s drive to succeed, and processes become blurred.

Self-accountability does not come naturally for everyone. However, some employees instinctively take the initiative, manage their assigned projects well while maintaining a great working relationship with the team. Those are the ones who exhibit accountability from their core.

2. Ensure that Individual Roles are Clearly Defined

Roles should be clearly defined at all levels. This is important to build trust and set expectations.

When roles are clear and the processes are defined, people will not struggle with accountability because they understand what part they play in the company’s success and what everyone else’s functions are.

When this happens, no one should be overloading or underworking as all are aware of their individual responsibilities while also being accountable for the team’s overall success.

3. Focus on Team Processes

There is an exponential impact when we don’t hold ourselves accountable. When one is delayed even by minutes, the entire team is held back too.

Execution suffers without a culture of accountability.

Here are some questions to consider as you examine team behaviour:

  • Does each member lack enough information to get their part done?
  • Do they work together efficiently?
  • Is there a weaker link that needs more attention?
  • Does the strongest team member take responsibility to encourage the others to take ownership of their roles?

Read more about how to organize your team for maximum productivity.

4. Be Consistent

To build trust, you must minimize fear and show that you are consistent with your expectations.

When you make it clear that there will be consequences for infractions like being chronically late or incomplete work, don’t let things slide. When employees feel like they can get away with something, they start to slack off, take it easy and lose that sense of urgency.

A leadership coach would advise never to openly punish any team member just to set an example to the others.

Even the most responsible employees will sometimes mess up due to a lapse in judgment or perhaps a personal issue affecting them at work.

Nonetheless, an accountable employee knows how to accept the consequences respectfully and will harbor no ill feelings because they acknowledge their faults.

5. Use Measurable Metrics to Establish Meaningful Goals

When your organization demonstrates transparency, as it should if you want to nurture a culture of accountability, setting goals that are measurable communicates a clear expectation to each team member.

These goals should be specific, measurable, and actionable. At the same time, each step needs to be linked to a meaningful purpose.

Receiving recognition when goals are achieved based on the numbers creates healthy competition in the workplace because the reward is not based on favoritism but on fair and indisputable metrics.

Read my blog on better goal setting for tips.

6. Set Healthy Expectations

With any growth in workplace culture, small steps are best. It’s essential not to expect too much too soon; otherwise, staff and leadership can become frustrated and might be tempted to throw in the towel.

With practice and solid leadership, it will become natural for everyone to communicate openly, take ownership, exchange ideas, and express what accountability means for them over time.

A culture of accountability will naturally flourish when accountability is consistently promoted and rewarded in the workplace.

Get Help Keeping Your Staff Accountable

Any improvement in workplace culture is not going to happen overnight, and consulting with an unbiased expert can be extremely helpful when it comes to making changes.

I have over 30 years of experience in corporate development, business process optimization, corporate turnarounds and revitalizations, team building, and organizational leadership. If you’re interested in leveling up your business in any of these areas, let’s jump on a call to brainstorm some strategic leadership concepts. Then, without obligation, we can consider if working together would be beneficial.

If that sounds good, you can use this link to schedule a chat. I look forward to learning more about you and your business.

Did you like this article? Here are three more to help:

Why a People-Oriented Culture is a Must for Every Organization
Creating a Useful “Clash of Ideas”
11 Behaviors for Creating Inclusive Environments

This article was originally published in 2016 but has been updated for 2021. 

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734