What Is a Culture of Accountability? (Plus 9 Steps To Build It)

Updated February 24, 2023

Accountability is essential to being productive and successfully completing projects. Therefore, it's important that workplaces foster a culture of accountability among employees. If you want to cultivate a culture of accountability in your workplace, it's important to understand the key steps you can take.

In this article, we explain what a culture of accountability is and list nine steps that you can follow to create a culture of accountability in your workplace.

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What is a culture of accountability?

A culture of accountability is an organizational culture in which employees are held accountable for completing their tasks and working together to reach goals and solve problems. A culture of accountability involves clear expectations and goals, open lines of communication and strong leadership.

Creating a culture of accountability in your workplace can have a variety of benefits, including:

  • Increasing trust: The open communication involved with a culture of accountability can increase trust among employees as well as trust between employees and workplace leaders. This can contribute to job satisfaction and productivity.

  • Boosting employee morale: A culture of accountability, which makes employees accountable to one another, can boost employee morale by increasing communication among employees.

  • Increasing productivity: Often, accountability in the workplace makes employees feel more engaged with their work and helps them understand consequences that can occur if they don't complete their work. This can increase employee productivity.

  • Improving employee work quality: Creating a culture of accountability can also help employees improve the quality of their work by making them feel more engaged with their work and accountable to their coworkers. This can heavily contribute to workplace success.

  • Fostering creativity: A culture of accountability can also increase employees' confidence in their work. Feeling confident in their work and understanding their role and responsibilities can help employees feel comfortable being creative, which can lead to new innovations.

Related: Improving Accountability in the Workplace

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How to create a culture of accountability

As a leader in your workplace, there are many things that you can do to foster a culture of accountability among your employees. Here are nine simple steps that you can follow to cultivate a culture of accountability in your workplace:

1. Define workplace expectations

The first step to creating a culture of accountability in your workplace is to define expectations for employees. This can help you create standards that employees are responsible for meeting. Setting workplace expectations can include:

  • Communicating the mission, vision and values of your organization

  • Setting standards for behavior, effort, results and more

  • Specifying the role of each team member

  • Communicating the importance of each expectation

After developing expectations, it's important to communicate these expectations to your employees. As you communicate expectations to employees, be sure to explain the relevance of the expectations so that employees understand why exactly they should meet the expectations.

Related: How To Communicate Expectations To Employees

2. Set strong goals

To keep everyone in your workplace accountable, it's also important to set strong goals. Setting goals can help everyone in your workplace understand what they should be working toward. To set strong goals, you can use the SMART method to create goals that are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Realistic

  • Timely

Related: Setting Goals at Work: Benefits and Tips

3. Monitor progress

After setting goals, it's also important to monitor your workplace's progress toward accomplishing goals. Monitoring progress involves creating metrics and analyzing data. After analyzing data, you can also determine if goals need to be adjusted or if any specific employees need help.

4. Encourage commitment

Another key part of establishing a culture of accountability is encouraging commitment from employees. It's important for employees to be committed to their work and to holding other employees accountable. This can increase employee engagement and productivity.

5. Communicate consequences

It's also important to communicate the consequences that can occur if employees do not meet expectations. This can help keep them motivated and accountable to complete their responsibilities. Be sure to consider how to motivate different employees.

6. Show leadership

Be sure to showcase leadership to continue developing your workplace's culture of accountability. Showing leadership can help you set a good example for your employees so that they emulate positive behavior. You can develop skills in leadership through gaining leadership experience, reading books about leadership and taking leadership classes. Leadership includes:

  • Being an excellent role model for employees

  • Communicating frequently and effectively with employees

  • Knowing how to motivate your employees in different ways

  • Making an effort to continue learning and growing as a leader

7. Take responsibility for mistakes

Part of creating a culture of accountability is taking responsibility for mistakes when they occur, so be sure to take responsibility for any mistakes that you make. Dealing with mistakes includes:

  • Admitting the mistake

  • Apologizing for the mistake if necessary

  • Creating a plan to resolve the mistake

  • Communicating how you plan to fix the mistake and avoid repeating it

Related: The Concept of Leadership Explained: Cultivating Effective Leadership

8. Gather feedback from employees

Another important step to developing a culture of accountability in your workplace is getting feedback from employees. Be sure to keep an open line of communication with employees so that they feel comfortable giving feedback and discussing problems. This can further help everyone in the workplace stay accountable.

In addition to taking feedback from employees, be sure to give employees feedback. Mention areas where employees are excelling as well as areas where they need to improve. This can help hold employees accountable and make them better at their jobs.

9. Hire the right employees

When it's time to hire new employees, be sure to consider your culture of accountability. To hire accountable employees, try to find employees who are willing to admit mistakes and solve problems. You can ask about these traits in interviews to determine whether an interviewee can become an accountable employee. Hiring accountable employees can help you continue building a team that can contribute to your workplace's culture of accountability.

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