Discover what accountability is, why it matters and a few ways you can hold yourself accountable, especially at work.
Accountability is all about honesty and responsibility and is directly linked to better performance and achievement. People who are accountable tend to set goals and are more likely to achieve them. This post will show you a few simple ways you can hold yourself accountable, especially at work.
Angela Ash is an expert content writer and editor, and she works with Flow SEO. She writes on a multitude of topics but places a special importance on SEO, productivity, motivation, time management and wellness.
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Do you own up to your decisions, work-wise and personally? Do you readily take initiative and are a problem solver (as opposed to pointing fingers at others when something goes wrong)? If the answer to both questions is yes, then you are already versed in the valuable skill called accountability.
Accountability is crucial for business success for both companies and their employees. It is directly linked with better performance and heightened capability, work dedication, morale and professional satisfaction.
But what is accountability, precisely?
Simply put, accountability at work is achieved when the employees demonstrate individual authority over their decisions, attitude, results (both good and bad), and actions. It implies doing the best thing for the business, no matter the risk and owning to the outcome.
When a whole collective is accountable, everyone shares in business success, but also everyone steps up to make difficult decisions when called for.
A breakdown of accountability would include:
- Acknowledging important tasks and working on them accordingly (individually, within a team or across the board);
- Acknowledging any potential mistakes and working on solving the issue;
- Not pointing fingers at others if a task assigned to you fails;
- Owning up to your contributions and not giving up along the way;
- Updating team members on the progress and providing relevant company updates (for managers and leaders);
- Offering solutions when the task assigned to you is underperforming
Everything considered, accountability is all about honesty and responsibility, both of which are unfortunately lacking in most work and home environments.
As humans, we learn that there are things that we must be held accountable for, no matter what. We have to treat others with respect and compassion. We need to work for a company as if it’s our own (even if we’re a freelancer or a digital nomad). Finally, we need to keep up-to-date with all business documentation and form filing.
The key to achieving accountability all around would be to continually work on your skills and communicate efficiently and continually.
Why accountability matters
As mentioned above, accountability is directly linked to better performance and employee satisfaction. By extension, it allows for all parties involved to contribute to overall company success, and thus feel that their work actually makes a difference.
A satisfied employee is unlikely to look for other job prospects, which means that a company can benefit greatly from inspiring its workforce to perform better, be open and honest and actively participate in all tasks assigned to their respective teams.
It goes without saying that lack of accountability sends a poor message both to the management and the customers. Indirectly, poor performance sends the message that you don’t deem your work important, even if that isn’t really the case.
For example, think about writing an informative article, filled with important facts and actionable tips. However, if you don’t optimize for SEO, then how many people will actually see your well-written blog post?
See, it’s all about accountability, and not taking shortcuts.
Fortunately, accountability can be nurtured, and it’s not a difficult task, either. Let’s see how accountability is best achieved.
Ways to hold yourself accountable #1: Add value to everything you do
No matter how small or insignificant the task may appear, make it matter.
When you invest yourself wholeheartedly and strive to add some value to everything you do, you actually build accountability. That isn’t to say that every task will be successful or that all tasks are equal.
On the contrary, it is crucial to prioritize tasks to ensure that important tasks will be dealt with in an efficient and timely manner, and less pressing ones will be addressed later with equally full attention as their predecessors.
Simply put, it portends defining goals and assigning enough time for each (and of course owning up to the results of your decisions).
Ways to hold yourself accountable #2: Defining goals and prioritizing tasks
Defining goals is always the first step towards success. Realistically defined goals and task prioritization also contribute to a fruitful environment for accountability.
Let’s get this straight, though: goals should be defined precisely – by using pre-defined metrics.
This strategy works in two ways. Firstly, it encourages employees to give the task their best because they will be able to compare the results with the pre-set metrics. Secondly, the goals will be clear to everyone and leave no room for confusion.
On top of defining goals, it is important to give praise where it is due. This is, understandably, the fastest way towards achieving accountability and making every team, and by extension, each company member, proud of their achievements.
Ways to hold yourself accountable #3: Nurture a culture of communication
Simply put, communication is the key to achieving better results, always. In terms of accountability, it is equally important to communicate with team members and managers.
First of all, accountability implies that the person responsible will take responsibility should something go wrong. Secondly, for managers and leaders, this means that they need to deal with the issue quickly in order to both define the root cause and make appropriate decisions to mitigate failure.
If poor motivation is the cause, different approaches might be needed. It is still common practice in most companies to add extra pressure in order to cut down losses. This strategy doesn’t sit well with employees who are already poorly motivated. If a lack of skill is the cause, appropriate training should be set in place.
No matter the reason, if there is no accountability, there will be a lot of finger-pointing, which will only serve to raise stress levels and deepen communication gap between everyone involved. That’s why communication is crucial.
Ways to hold yourself accountable #4: Build self-confidence
This may be easier said than done for many people, but in truth, self-confidence can be nourished in much the same way as accountability.
We all face stressful days due to us being incapable of finishing all the tasks in time. That’s not because we lack skill but because of poor planning (and, more often than not, poor task delegation).
It is crucial to NOT cut on regular breaks and to engage in beneficial activities outside of work. The best approach to achieving this (and keeping this trait in the long run) would be to prioritize tasks, allowing sufficient time for each (including allocating time for regular breaks).
Both self-confidence and accountability come naturally to people who work hard to address what they see as their shortcomings. Because everyone knows how much they’ve invested in becoming better employees and, more importantly, better human beings, self-confidence is bound to follow suit.
Final thoughts on holding yourself accountable
Overall, we’d argue that accountability is a skill that everyone can learn.
It’s the will that matters. The key is to not be afraid of mistakes because fear makes people make wrong decisions. That’s why people lacking self-confidence are more likely to point fingers at their colleagues. The practice is wholly curable.
You need to work on your skills, effectively communicating with people and taking responsibility for all decisions you’ve made. If performance results are poor, the cause needs to be defined and addressed.
Most importantly, learn from past mistakes. In that way, you’ll be able to grow and be proud of your achievements and confident of your decisions.