Everyone has heard a boss utter these words at some point, “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done!”
This phrasing delivers a very task-oriented mindset to an employee. It tells the employee that they are getting paid to merely perform a defined function. If the job gets done, then they’ve done what’s being asked of them, regardless of the desired result. The problem with this is that most of the time, people focus on performing the task, but don’t feel any accountability to gain a positive result.
Creating accountability is important because means that getting the job done and creating a desired result are one and the same. This helps employees understand that the job isn’t done until the result is achieved. By creating a mindset in which the only motive is to get the job done, employees will develop an attitude of complacency. They think of the workplace as a place to check your brains at the door, punch in, check off the list of activities in their job description and punch out. No more and and, for many, much less. Organizational charts and job descriptions push employees into boxes, creating fewer and fewer employees who are willing to take direct responsibility for their actions.
A survey by the American Psychological Association says that 91% of employees who feel valued at their job are motivated to do their best, versus 37% of those who don’t feel valued.
The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman discusses four type of people:
- People who make it happen
- People who watch it happen
- People who wonder what happened
- People who never knew anything happened
When a leader focuses on why results are unachievable, they will always find fault and blame. There will always be a story, someone to blame, something to evade or conceal and plenty of excuses to explain why it didn’t get done.
As an employer, you’ll hear phrases like:
- That’s not my job
- I delegated that to my employee
- That’s not what I’m paid to do
- I’m not concerned about things outside my realm of responsibility
Or you may hear finger pointing phrases like:
- It’s the IT department’s fault
- Marketing gave us bad forecasts
- Don’t blame me. That’s what the boss told us to do
- If you had told us it was that important, I would have done it
One of the most important roles of a leader is to eliminate all excuses. Leadership is critical to workplace accountability. When leaders understand the principles of employee engagement, they can implement a process that creates a culture of ownership and an expectation of accountability. Stop telling and start engaging employees. By focusing on what else is needed to deliver results employees can works on delivering those results and taking an initiative towards solutions.
You may find these stories change and start to sound incredibly different. Instead of excuses, you might start hearing what measures were taken to overcome the obstacles, in order to get positive results. Employees might start taking initiative and ask, “What else can I do?” as opposed to “How else can I explain and justify why I didn’t get the results?”
Some Other Examples of Accountability in the Workplace:
- Being present for an entire required shift
- Completing every tasks that have been designated to them
- Being responsible for the specific duties that go along with their job
- Being consistent in doing the right thing in all aspects pertaining to their job
- Working together towards a common goal for the business
Remember that last meeting where your boss set a deadline for the next big project and everyone agreed to it? Why, then does nothing get done on time or at all? Most likely, it’s because when people say, “we are going to do it”, they don’t think it means all of them.
Leaders should remember that by getting people to agree “we will do it”, doesn’t necessarily mean everything will get done. When leaders can inspire employees to change that ‘we’ to an ‘I’, it becomes clear what the results are exactly and when they need to be attained.
When workplace accountability is lacking, the result is a substantial disparity in employee performance and productivity. Make certain that you are giving as much as you are asking. Accountability matters because not having it means no one can be held responsible.
I invite you to share your experiences or thoughts, or comments. You can contact me for more information on soft skills/interpersonal skills workshops that can transform employees.