Accountability is a Trending Topic

Gallup tracks employee engagement each year and shared the results of the 2023 survey. After a slight increase mid-year, US employees levelled off at 33% engagement in 2023. Gallup quantifies the lost productivity among disengaged and not engaged employees as a 1.9 trillion-dollar loss. What percentage of your team is disengaged or not engaged and what is the associated cost?

In our practice, we measure seven factors that contribute to employee engagement. Accountability is among the key factors. The topic of accountability, and lack thereof, has surfaced multiple times in the past week, so I would like to share our experience.

First, accountability is a challenge for organizations of all sizes – even global businesses. Secondly, it is not isolated to for profit or not for profit organizations. It impacts all organizations to varying degrees. Fortunately, there are solutions that will lead to a course correction in future quarters and our measurement instrument tracks the progress.

Imagine if your new team members read a job post and in the absence of any additional information, they believe the job post represents what they should do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Inevitably, they fall short of expectations. This is a common occurrence. Some organizations contribute to the problem by failing to provide an employee handbook and complete job descriptions. The handbook provides policies that team members are expected to follow. Job descriptions should accurately reflect a job summary and responsibilities.

We encounter some additional challenges – systems and management skills. While systems can simplify and automate accountability measures, they aren’t a firm requirement. With or without a system, managers require the skills to clearly articulate specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound goals. After the goals are established, ongoing communication is required. Sometimes we observe a communication breakdown. Conversations happen and relationships are built, but the discussions omit constructive performance feedback.

A performance management program helps to track accountability throughout the organization on a periodic basis. Your managers may resist the “burden” of delivering a performance management program. With proper communication and training, simple performance review frameworks can be beneficial. Team members thrive on positive feedback and the discussions help managers support career development and advancement goals. Their resistance to the program may be an indication that they need training.

The good news is that many individuals report that they would like to be held accountable. They tend to have a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. They understand that their actions and decisions directly impact the team’s performance and the organization’s success. When employees feel accountable, they are more likely to take initiative, problem-solve, and strive for excellence.

Others  may initially resist being held accountable, but later discover the gratification associated with their contribution toward a meaningful business outcome. Strong leaders reinforce accountability with positive rewards – an expression of gratitude, a token of appreciation, or when appropriate, compensation. Alternatively, clear consequences may be appropriate for individuals who miss expectations.

Strong leaders also drive the culture of accountability by removing ambiguity around roles and responsibilities. They clearly set expectations, check in with their direct reports to monitor progress, ask how they can assist, and remove obstacles. Modeling that behavior permeates the organization and guides managers on utilizing the skills for their direct reports. Managers may need training or coaching to gain confidence and hone their skills, but over time, it will become part of the  culture. When they struggle to hone their skills, they are more likely to takeover the project when it appears to be at risk. One of our clients didn’t hold his team accountable because he thought they would leave the organization and he didn’t want to be understaffed. He needed to reframe the scenario. Underperformers may leave the team which provides an opening for stronger performers.

Accountability, belonging, and believing are three of our seven employee engagement indicators. Next month, we will share number four!

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Headquarters
230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us
https://onboardwithus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/img-footer-map1.jpg