Do employees really want accountability?

Do employees really want accountability?

October 3, 2014

Accountability is a trait that more and more senior leaders believe should apply to all employees at every level of a business.

But how can companies take away the negative connotations so colleagues welcome it with open arms?

The word accountable can strike fear into workforces, after all by definition it means they are ‘required or expected to justify actions or decisions’.

So how can organisations ensure the freedom of responsibility is seen as a positive instead of a dreaded blame game?

BT’s Principal Internal Communications Manager Anton Nebbe believes it’s all down to the culture.

He said: “If you’re in an organisation where people are scared to fail and people pass the buck, then it’s going to be difficult to sell accountability as an important trait.

“If you’re in an organisation where people aren’t afraid, then it’s easy to implement accountability.”

Whether colleagues are accountable for individual projects, annual objectives or adhering to the company’s targets, there should be a way to evaluate each colleague’s success because reward and acknowledgement are important benefits to accountability.

“People need to be rewarded,” Anton adds.

“If you have a strong reward and recognition policy in place, colleagues know they can be measured in terms of their success and what they’ve contributed.

“Likewise, if they have to hold their hands up when something doesn’t go to plan, they’re not going to be scared of failing.”

Delivered in the right way, accountability doesn’t have to be something for frontline colleagues to fear – with praise, recognition and a good old-fashion pat on the back at the top of the agenda, they can thrive in an environment where they’re given more responsibility.

“If you don’t have accountability, what are you doing there? What’s your role in making the company successful? Without accountability, you don’t have success.

“It encourages people to take a personal interest in the business as well. If you feel that you have a personal stake in the business and its success you’re more likely to feel engaged in the business.

“Accountability encourages engagement, ultimately. If you take accountability and you’re rewarded for that accountability then you feel engaged and proud to work for the organisation.

“The business will benefit in all sorts of ways.”