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by Joshna Daya , Director and Founder, Your Business Momentum

As the owner of your business, you’ve put in long hours of hard work to build not only a thriving business, but also your company culture and your reputation with your clients. So, the last thing you would want is for one of your employees to somehow avoid taking responsibility and expect someone else to solve problems.

Like any business owner, you want to create a work environment where your employees enjoy coming to work every day. However, it should not come at the expense of productivity and profiting bottom lines. It can be tricky to strike that fine balance, as many managers are afraid of enforcing the rules in case they are considered ‘harsh’ or ‘heavy-handed’.

Fostering a culture of accountability means that all your employees understand that they are accountable for their work, and that the expected results are communicated and understood by everybody. So how can company leaders enforce a culture of accountability and productivity, without dampening company morale in the process? Here are six key ways managers can achieve this:

1.   Put the Right People in the Right Place

The simplest way to ensure employees cultivate an attitude of accountability is to hire people who have a strong work ethic and take pride in being held accountable for their work. Choosing quality employees who can do the job well will save the stress and headaches of having employees who won’t be held accountable later when the deadline arrives, and the work isn’t done. Remember that one member of the team who isn’t completing their work properly can trigger a chain reaction in the efficiency of the team and bring everyone down.

2.   Fix Issues, Not People

When issues arise in a business environment, oftentimes it’s simply a miscommunication or understanding of who is accountable for which tasks. A simply way to combat this is to foster open communication in your team and having an ‘open door’ policy, so that employees know that they can come to you if they are having an issue they can talk it over confidentially with their manager. However, ensure that you encourage them to attempt to sort out issues among themselves first, before they become giant elephants in the office that affect the overall productivity of the team. As this is how open communication will begin to take positive effect.

3.   Communicate Your Vision

You must have a vision for where you hope the company will be in one, five or ten years! Share this with your employees, share your passion and what gives you purpose. This kind of enthusiasm is infectious and when your team knows what’s expected of them, only then can you expect to hold them accountable!

4.   Define results and expectations

It is pointless to wait until your team has completed a given task to an unsatisfactory level to explain your expectations more fully. This will only waste both your time and energy and that of your team.  Instead, you should set clear expectations before the work even starts, even as early as the time of hiring your team. Make sure your employees understand what your organisation is trying to achieve and are aware of the kind of results you expect. This way, you will be able to keep your team accountable for the results they achieve.

5.   Don’t Use Penalties to Punish Poor Performance

Punishing an employee for poor performance, such as withholding raises or excluding them from company activities will only frustrate them and cause them to perform even more poorly. Instead, work with them to help them improve and show them you appreciate them. Always assume they are trying their best until they show you otherwise. If it becomes clear they lack the motivation to do their job well or be there at all, punishments will still only compound this problem. Instead, perhaps offer them a change of position that may be more suited to their needs or abilities. In some cases, it may be necessary for them to seek employment elsewhere.

6.   Keep It Real

Be authentic, be yourself. Your employees will see through any kind of ‘act’ or persona that you adopt to seem more legitimate as a manager. And this will have the opposite effect to what you intend. They will not take you or your company seriously, and their work ethic will falter. You don’t always need to be stiff and formal, treat your employees as employees, but also as people. If your team feels appreciated individually, they are more likely to take responsibility for their role in your company and your team will function better as a whole.

Developing a culture of employee accountability means that every employee feels a sense of ownership of organisation results and are willing to do what it takes to achieve company goals. When employees are willing and ready to be held accountable for their work, you bottom line grows stronger. Overall, you will have on your hands a healthier and stronger company.

Joshna Daya

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