How To Create A Culture Of Accountability

Who is accountable keypadWhy is it so difficult to get my people to take full responsibility for results?

This was a question one of my consultants faced when he was working with a client recently.

The manager was worried that overall results were suffering because many of his people were abdicating responsibility for results they should have been getting, and instead were developing a culture of blame.

Nothing was their fault. It was always something or someone else.

My consultant asked what the results of such a climate were.

The answers were pretty obvious:

  • Lack of trust
  • Damage to team morale
  • Poor communication issues
  • Lack of commitment
  • Acceptance of mediocrity

This was obviously a real problem and so we worked with the manager to assess how to develop a culture where accountability becomes the norm.

It’s not easy to change a culture around. It takes dedication, understanding and a desire to get it right.

How can you start to develop this accountability?

Here are some thoughts:

Recognise the reasons why accountability is being bypassed

This may be because of lack of confidence or an inability to influence those things they could have control over

Get the individuals or team together

You need to make clear what your expectations are that there are no alternatives to the changes you are looking for.

Everyone has to recognise what the repercussions are of not getting the results we need to achieve.

Agree what needs to happen for changes to take place

This means getting everyone to participate in what needs to happen in order for the culture to change.

You may need to gain agreement on what culture we now have and what we would like to have in the future.

Without this ‘state of the nation’ agreement, people will not see the need for change.

Get all to start making accountability a habit

Start by asking what you can do to help people in this regard.

You may be intrigued or surprised by their answers, but try to see them as quality feedback for your management style

Look to where you could support team members in focusing on taking accountability

Work with the team to highlight what values you will be manifesting

Most companies have sets of values that, if anything, are given lip service, and don’t actively play a part in everyday work.

If you can establish values that support the taking of responsibility and accountability at a personal level, and everyone buys into them, then you have a foundation to build the next stage of development within the team

Build a sense of unity, solidarity and companionship within the team

When people start working together on projects, they see the need to support each other and accountability starts to become a natural by-product of the atmosphere they are working in.

Get the team to work with each other, and they soon become liable and responsible to each other to achieve the team goals.

Determine how a new way of behaving will help people grow

You want to ensure that the team realises taking responsibility and accountability is vital for growth and development, not only for themselves but also for the company.

Without clarity of purpose, people tend to just ‘do a job’.

You want them to build confidence and trust in each other as they start taking accountability

Note when there are examples of accountability and make sure it’s noted and mentioned

Being aware of when people start to take responsibility needs to be shared, and that will make people recognise what they need to do to embed the actions as part of the culture.

When people demonstrate they are accountable, make sure you show appreciation, if you want it repeated and become a habit.

Practice it yourself, embed it in everyday dealings

Make sure that you take responsibility and be accountable for those things that you manage.

You’ll be setting the example and become the role model for what you wish others to see and do.

By putting the above into action, you will soon see a culture of accountability set in.

We tried it with the manager’s department that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, and it is having the desired effect.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 16 January, 2019

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