I don't know how it has happened exactly, but there seems to be an epidemic of employees who are lacking in personal accountability. I have observed it myself, and hear a lot of excuses when I ask someone why they didn't take control of their own actions. When talking with leaders, they say that finding employees who take responsibility for their behaviors or those of their team is getting harder and harder to find. So, where did accountability go and how do we increase it? First, as leaders, we must role model it, and second, we must hold people to their word. It takes some courage and persistence but remains a worthwhile focus area. Here are a few tips to assist you in your efforts.
There is a dynamic going on in the workplace today: a shortage of people willing to step up and own their behaviors. The way it plays out is in employee's who blame others for their failures, get defensive, deflect responsibility or claim ignorance. There is a link between Self-Awareness and being accountable for our behavior. It requires self-reflection, and it requires seeing ourselves from another point of view. It requires manning up to apologize, even if not for the content of your message but for how you botched its delivery. Self-awareness helps you sense when your behavior is being disruptive and making efforts to remove yourself or use your self-control to minimize the negative impact on others.
To Increase Accountability:
- Be a leader, role model for your team how to say, "I had no intention of misleading you, I don't think I was clear with my expectations and I am sorry it created confusion for you."
- Stop telling people how to accomplish tasks: if they are simply carrying out your directives, it makes it impossible for them to take any ownership of its outcome or for you to hold them accountable to it.
- Be self-deprecating. Don't take yourself so seriously that you get defensive when given feedback. Be able to laugh at your own mistakes, especially in front of your team.
- Any time you end up in a conflict or a difficult confrontation, really consider the part you played in it. Almost always, people's bad behavior is the reaction to something you have done (usually unintentionally). So reflect on what you did to get such a reaction from them, and own up to it with them and apologize.
- Watch the blame game. No one wants to work with someone who is always pointing fingers at others as an explanation for their own failure. Do people let us down? Yes. Does workload sometimes feel unfair? Yes. Deal with it.
Should you apply some of these suggestions, you hold the power to change the behavior in your entire team by doing so.