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Encouraging People to Take Responsibility through Accountability

Guest Author | Will Vicary

Encouraging People to Take Responsibility through Accountability

Encouraging people to take responsibility through accountability is an on-going process for any successful company. Many companies are composed of responsible team-oriented workers. However, there are times when one or more individuals has a poor attitude or does not see how being responsible affects the business.

For example, Mary is a manager of mostly exceptional team members who work very well together to accomplish team goals. However, Larry regularly causes disruptions by being late or misses meetings and deadlines. Rather than own up to it, he always has an excuse that usually involves another teammate.


Larry’s behavior is creating a significant level of disruption on team productivity. Team members do not like working with him and try to avoid it as much as possible. They also resent the fact that he is getting away with this apathetic attitude. Because of his unwillingness to adjust his behavior, it is very frustrating to have him on the team. However, there are some steps that are relatively easy to create a better work environment for everyone.

1. Ensure that Adequate Resources Exist

The first thing to do is ensure that the staff has all of the resources they need in order to do their jobs. This could include offering new equipment, training and access to coaches and mentors.

This is a very key component to assisting people in taking responsibility for their jobs. For example, perhaps Larry needs help with prioritizing or learning how to delegate. When staff members are overwhelmed, it is easy for them to become apathetic. When essential tools are not available, they also are inclined to become resentful and shun their responsibilities.

2. Define Roles and Objectives

Once the resources and skills are addressed, ensure that everyone understands clearly what their roles and responsibilities are. Current job descriptions should exist for each team member. One way to involve the staff is to have each person detail their jobs in writing. This can also expose areas that need improvement or correction. For example, if Larry is failing to list key elements in his job description, this would be an opportunity to correct this.

3. Explain Staff Productivity Consequences

Take the time to ensure that the team understands the overall bigger picture for the company. At times, people are not inspired to take responsibility due to a sense of exclusion. Explain to all staff how important their roles are. Provide specifics such as supply chain data so that each person understands how their work affects the entire business. Be sure that they understand what the direct and indirect consequences are when their jobs are not done properly.

4. Staff Meetings and Discussions

Once the roles have been fully defined, have group discussions with the entire team about company objectives and how each role functions. Split people into departments if necessary, but also have meetings with team leaders and then with each team. Through these discussions, find out who doesn’t understand their job or company objectives. Answer all questions honestly and make notes about what needs to be addressed.

5. Establish Re-Engagement

Keep in mind that some individuals, such as Larry, could have personal circumstances that have contributed to less than favorable work situations. Address each issue as it arises or is discovered individually, with care to protect the privacy and dignity of the people involved.

Encourage staff to seek assistance and to discuss issues that occur in the work environment. Provide continual feedback to all staff so that they understand how important their roles are. It is only through good communication that problems can be solved. If there is an issue that affects job performance, staff should feel comfortable in discussing it, whatever it may be.

The aim is to ensure that staff is provided with all of the necessary resources and have the skills to do their jobs to the best of their ability. With all that in place, it is possible to create an environment where it is second nature for staff to take responsibility for their actions and decisions.

About Author

Will Vicary writes for a number of businesses on topics such as total rewards and fiduciary management. He enjoys reading about business as much as he enjoys writing about it. Any opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the businesses Will writes for.


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