One of the pillars of a high performance culture is accountability. These four steps lay the foundation for a culture of accountability and foster en environment for engaged employees.

Step 1: Build a foundation of Mutual Respect

What do people want most out of life?  Psychologists confirm what we already know in our gut – that at our core, we all desire self-worth. More than anything we want others to acknowledge our own dignity, respect, and sense of accomplishment.  True leadership isn’t as much about how you feel, but more about how others feel around you! If you begin to treat people with dignity and respect, others will follow.  Think about what happens when you hold open a door in public: the person behind you, more often than not, will reciprocate the process. When inappropriate behavior happens in the workplace, a manager’s default response should be to coach that person within an environment of mutual respect rather than jump to conclusions or place blame.  This approach is a recurring focus during many of the management seminars we lead.  As author Dr. Will Keim says, “People act 100% appropriately based on their background and experience.”  Our challenge is how to respond when we see or hear something that does not align with our expectations.

Step 2:  Create a Shared Purpose

We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  The best organizations have a unique identity with a shared purpose.  Accountability is primarily about alignment based on a shared purpose that flows naturally out of your organization’s processes.  Start by clearly defining your company’s mission, vision, and values. Create a strategic plan to integrate your workplace values into your day-to-day operations to build your company's culture.  Think of ways that you can best communicate your mission to your employees. Then work to integrate these values into your day to day operations to build your company’s culture.  The best companies are the ones that are able to move beyond what they do and have employees believe in why they are doing it.  As speaker Michael Jr. says, “When you know your why, your what has more impact because you’re walking in or towards your purpose!”

Step 3:  Set Clear Expectations in Each Employee Performance Review

Managers can directly affect employee accountability by creating and installing effective and clear company processes.  Do your job descriptions align with what your people actually do?  Do you have a clear organizational hierarchy?  Are you conducting a regularly scheduled, comprehensive employee performance review with each team member and listening to your employees needs?  Focus on the action itself, rather than the person.  If you begin to hold people accountable by assigning blame, your employees will become defensive and eventually toxic.  On the other hand, a culture of accountability is one where employees and managers collaborate on how to continually improve the processes within the organization.

Step 4:  Follow Up on the Employee Performance Appraisal

Follow up doesn’t have to be time intensive or overly formal, but it does need to be deliberate and intentional. Managers who need to course-correct their employees are clear and direct with their expectations and then informally check-in on regular intervals on whether the employee is making progress or not. Don’t resort to passive-aggressive behavior or expect the employee to read your mind. Establish clear next steps within a specified timeline and when you will be checking back in again.  Repeat this process until the employee is back on track or you decide that it is time to promote them to their next opportunity outside your company.

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