Imagine one of your teammates comes back from a client meeting looking frazzled. They go straight to your manager to explain that the client has rejected a proposal they spent months working on. During the conversation, your colleague suddenly apologizes to your manager.
On the way to the meeting, your colleague took a detour for personal business without informing the client; the client had to wait for two hours. Your teammate’s oversight cost your organization an important project. But, your colleague took ownership of their mistake and requested the client to reconsider.
Your duties—like meeting a client—fall within the scope of your roles and responsibilities. They come from a place of discipline—your responsibility is what’s expected of you.
But that’s not all that an employee has to do. They also have to be accountable for their decisions.
An employee has to go beyond what’s expected of them. Being responsible is only part of the role. What you need is to be accountable for your work and take ownership of your decisions.
It’s an important trait in a professional setting because it means you consider yourself part of the organization. Just as you’d take ownership of your life decisions, you should be accountable for your work-related decisions.
Let’s look at the meaning and importance of accountability in the workplace and how it improves work performance and employee commitment.
What Is Accountability?
Being accountable is to be answerable for your actions. In politics, the government is answerable for the state of their country. In business, leaders are accountable for their actions and the impact it has on their organizations. But there’s another aspect to accountability that defines the right way to work in your organization.
Each workplace is unique in the way they conduct their business. Some may follow a hierarchical structure while others invite informal employee engagements. In the workplace, accountability in terms of who and what must align with your organization’s culture and values. You must be familiar with your organization’s mission and goals if you want to take accountability for your role.
Some things that may be part of your job are being productive during regular work hours, putting in overtime and collaborating with colleagues. For a happy work life, your personal goals should align with your organizational goals. This way, you’ll do your best to improve your skills, work harder and feel like a valuable member of your organization.
The senior management also has to appreciate each member and their efforts—accountability is a two-way street. Even if you’re willing to give your all, if your manager or teammates don’t appreciate or acknowledge your work, you might lose interest in your work and look for other opportunities.
Organizations should encourage their employees to be accountable as it creates a high-performance work culture and adds to productivity.
Importance Of Accountability
Accountability improves employee engagement. It gives them autonomy to make decisions and take initiatives that would deliver desired results. Organizations should involve employees in important decision-making, address their concerns and support their efforts. Otherwise, it may lead to high employee turnover. Here’s an example:
Say that you recently started a new job. You’re a part of a six-member team that includes your manager. You soon discover that everyone else on the team has been with the organization for over a year. They have a good relationship with each other but don’t reach out to you unless absolutely necessary. They often leave you out of important meetings and only communicate with you via email. Until now, you haven’t had the courage to bring this to your manager’s attention.
Would you feel like giving your best in such an environment? Probably not!
Feeling out of place at work will surely impact your performance. Part of the job experience is combining your efforts to achieve common goals.
Some examples of accountability in the workplace are:
Informing your manager if you’re on leave
Addressing conflicts between employees to arrive at a win-win outcome
Being respectful to external stakeholders like clients or customers
Meeting deadlines and working according to plan to achieve results
Finding solutions to complex problems to get back on track
Taking accountability is what ties you to your organization. You may feel like an outsider at times, but if you start taking accountability for your actions and decisions, you could contribute in more ways than one. This will add value to your role and improve your performance. Harappa Education’s Navigating Workplaces course will teach you how to be accountable and align your personal goals to your organization’s goals.
Explore topics such as Employee Engagement, Employee Engagement Strategies, Employee Development, Types of Accountability & Difference Between Accountability and Responsibility from our Harappa Diaries section and give your employees the right tools for development.
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