Hold Your Employees Accountable without Damaging Company Culture

coworkers enjoying their work at a company that holds employees accountable without damaging company cultureMany business leaders have worked hard to build their company’s culture, only to realize that they’ve created a culture without accountability. There’s a healthy work/life balance and employees enjoy being together, but productivity isn’t as strong as it should be and no one seems to be on the same page.

Many leaders are afraid of being “the heavy” and ruining company culture by suddenly holding employees accountable for their work. How can you create accountability throughout your organization without damaging morale?

Here are five ways to develop a healthy culture of accountability that your employees will be grateful for.

1) Put the Right People in the Right Seat

Creating a culture of accountability starts with hiring people who want to be held accountable, and are the right fit for their position at the company. It becomes very difficult to hold people accountable if they aren’t in the right seat, even if they’re the right kind of person. Being in the wrong seat means you’re spending too many resources on accountability – and the failure to perform will only damage company culture as their work will affect others on their team.

2) Fix Issues, Not People

When you introduce accountability into your company, it’s likely that many of your people will feel vulnerable. They may naturally adopt a defensive stance to everyday accountability.

To help employees feel safe and protect your culture, be sure that accountability addresses issues, not people. Talk about measureables and deliverables. If an expectation isn’t met, focus on solving the issue, not fixing (or criticizing) the employee.

When the focus is on the roadblock, your employees will feel free to resolve issues with ownership.

3) Avoid Penalties

If someone doesn’t meet expectations, don’t penalize. Instead, assume the best about the employee’s commitment and focus on solving the issue. Only in cases when it’s clear that the employee is the wrong person or in the wrong seat should you explore penalties.

4) Communicate Purpose

Culture without accountability can’t last, because employees want accountability for themselves and for their coworkers. When it’s common to drop the ball, it affects morale.

When you implement accountability across your company, communicate a vision for it. Help your people to realize that accountability helps feed your culture, not kill it.

5) Communicate Like You

If your company culture is loose and fun-loving, keeping people accountable doesn’t have to be stiff and formal. You might be using a new process, but you can make it fit your company’s personality. Communicate expectations and give feedback the way that fits your business best.

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The Best Company Cultures Are Accountable

Accountability and culture go hand-in-hand. If you need to build accountability into your small business, you may be surprised by how much it improves the culture of your organization.

Want to find other areas to improve the accountability of your company? Take the EOS® Organizational Checkup. You’ll get an objective measure of the strength of your organization and areas to focus on.

Next Steps

This article originally appeared on the GPS for Small Business blog on March 29, 2017.

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