How To Hold Employees Accountable (With Tips for Success)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want your team to thrive, then you need to make sure each individual is meeting their expectations. As a manager, it's your role to make sure your team members understand their responsibilities and are fulfilling them. There are various ways to measure your team's progress and ensure employees are reaching their goals. In this article, we explain the importance of accountability and how to hold employees accountable along with some helpful tips.

Related: Improving Accountability in the Workplace

Why is it important to hold employees accountable?

Holding employees accountable is an important part of meeting your department's goals. When everyone is aware of their expectations and responsibilities, they can produce better, more consistent work. Some employees need more supervision than others, making it important for you to have strategies to monitor their work. When your team members know you're tracking their goals and task completion, they may be more likely to stay focused on their work and get more done. Holding employees accountable also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, which is a transferrable skill for virtually any role.

Related: 7 Interview Questions About Accountability

How to hold employees accountable

Follow these steps to hold your team members accountable:

1. Set clear goals

Setting clear goals and expectations is an essential part of holding your team members accountable. It's even better to put each team member's responsibilities in writing so that you can refer to them at a later time. Be open to questions from your team members to ensure they understand your directions. Regularly remind them of your expectations and make it clear when any of them change.

Related: Career Goal Statement: Why They Are Important + Examples

2. Make mistakes a learning experience

When an employee makes a mistake, use this as a chance to coach them through their error. Rather than finding a solution for them, make them go through the problem-solving process. This can help your team members develop these essential skills while also learning how to do a task the right way.

Related: Accountable vs. Responsible: What's the Difference? (With Examples)

3. Give regular feedback

Giving your team members feedback can help them figure out if they are meeting your expectations. Consider holding one-on-one performance reviews to discuss each employee's progress in detail. Explain what strengths of theirs you appreciate and what skills they could improve. Help them set goals moving forward using the SMART method. This means that each of their goals is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Using this framework can help your team members create high-quality goals that they are more likely to reach.

4. Measure progress

Create a system to measure the progress of your team. This may include weekly progress reports, peer reviews or daily check-ins. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) can also help you measure what quantifiable results your team members are producing. Setting actual numbers they need to meet can give you a more tangible idea of their progress.

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5. Mean what you say

Whenever you say something to your team members, be consistent with it. Whether it's a promise you make or expectations you set, make sure you are following through on what you say. Along with being a good role model, consistency helps your team members know what to expect from you. For instance, when creating consequences for team members failing to meet their quotas, you need to uphold them to ensure your team members take you seriously.

6. Work with other team leaders

Consider meeting with other managers to discuss your plan for holding employees accountable. This way, you can work together to create a streamlined process that is the same across the company. Add your policies to the employee handbook so every new employee knows their expectations from the first day. Consider meeting annually to review and revise your policies as a team to ensure they're still meeting your company's needs.

7. Implement a strong onboarding process

A good way to hold employees accountable is by setting clear expectations on their first day of work. Having helpful training sessions and materials for new employees to review can help them learn what they are supposed to do. Before they even start, send them information about things like your company's dress code, working hours, parking policies, disclosure agreements and anything else they might need to know on their first day.

Tips for holding employees accountable

Holding your team members is an ongoing process, requiring you to manage their work on a regular basis. These tips can help you set clear expectations for your team:

  • Acknowledge your own mistakes. Even as a leader, you may make the occasional error. Set a good example by admitting your faults and finding a way to fix them.

  • Show good examples. If you notice one of your team members did exceptional work, ask them if you can show it to the rest of the team. Having clear examples of good work may inspire the rest of your team to put in more effort.

  • Treat everyone equally. Consistently enforcing your expectations for everyone can help you create a system free of favoritism or office politics. Show all of your team members respect, but also hold them all accountable for their actions.

  • Motivate your team. Employees who feel motivated may be more likely to get their work done. Creating a reward system, giving praise and offering career advancement opportunities may all be useful incentives.

  • Be firm. While you might develop relationships with each of your team members, you need to remember that you are their manager. If you notice they aren't meeting your expectations, you need to address this rather than letting it go.

  • Thoughtfully delegate work. When employees get work they're interested in, they may be more likely to stay focused and meet their goals. That's why it's important to consider your employees' strengths and current responsibilities when assigning new tasks.

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