Lack of accountability in the workplace is a very serious concern for many of the business owners I know. With not a small degree of stress, they cite specific examples of when their employees (some in key positions) have dropped the ball, causing, in quite a few instances, serious repercussions.
The main problem seems to be that these types of situations happen more frequently than they would imagine and, as they put it, no one seems to learn from their mistakes.
What! How can that be?
Growing up I was taught to learn from my mistakes. My parents believed that when mistakes happen it was how a person handled their mistake and what they learned from it that was most important. Mom and Dad were smart even back then! I believe much the same.
Employees who aren’t held accountable and learn from their mistakes can damage YOUR company. The question you must ask yourself is simple — why aren’t they accountable and taking ownership of the situation?
Take a look at the following situations; see if they may be happening in your company:
1. Employee Expectations and Priorities are Ambiguous or Shift Frequently
While change is a fact of life in most companies, frequent pivots and changes in requirements can serve to make employees confused, undermine their ability to do their work efficiently, and in extreme cases make them question why they should even care about what is expected. Good communication and hands-on supervision will help to ensure that employees understand why changes occur and also have the internal support and training they need to be successful.
2. Morale is Low and Employees are Disengaged
There is a discernible drop in accountability when employee morale is low and employees are disengaged from each other and from the company as a whole. A sense of “team” and a philosophy of “we’re all in this together” help to keep employees working together for the good of the group. While there is no quick fix to improve low morale, business owners should work with their HR department or an outsourced HR consultant to develop short and long-term tactics to improve morale and motivate employees.
3. There Are No Meaningful Repercussions When Expectations Are Not Met
If you set clear expectations and define all of the required deliverables, and your employees still do not accomplish what they need to do, you have a problem; if there are no repercussions for such behaviors, you have an even bigger problem.
When employees believe that they can “get away” with certain behaviors, or with not doing the work they are expected to do, they will be less inclined to work as diligently as necessary. All employees must take responsibility for their actions or accept the consequences for poor performance, reduced productivity, compromised teamwork or anything they do that impacts the overall work produced by the company.
When you were the employee and not the business owner, what was your work ethic? I am sure that you worked as hard as you do today as the business owner, I know that is who I am!
Remember, looking the other way and ignoring unacceptable situations is a guarantee that the inappropriate behaviors will continue. Your expectations that employees are accountable for what they do — and don’t do — in the workplace, should be communicated with each new hire and reinforced regularly with all employees.