Hidden Aspect of Performance Management: Employee’s Accountability

Employee's Accountability

Fewer words in the organization vernacular render a tighter wince than the word accountability. For several decades organizations and leaders have tussled with what it means and how to achieve it effectively.  Ask any employee if they look forward to their performance evaluation and most will say no, emphatically. Dissatisfaction with traditional performance management was already on a constant rise since the last few decades, and it only amplified ever since the organizations were locomoted to the remote culture. There was a common feeling between the employees, managers, and human resource leaders regarding the traditional approach. They felt that it was no longer effective and engaging. Performance reviews are dreaded by most leaders as they seem to de, motivate, and disengage the employees rather than inspire them to augment their productivity and efficiency. Organizations that have agile performance management at their core are more likely to thrive than their peers. You get a much more aligned, engaged, and accountable workforce!Employee's Accountability

It is impossible for you to establish a high-performing organization when there’s a lack of accountability in your employees. Why? Employees’ accountability is what fuels a successful organization.  When no one willingly takes ownership of making decisions, addressing issues, and resolving problems, your organization won’t be able to function smoothly and consequently won’t achieve the desired results. Howbeit, it’s easier said than done as injecting accountability in your organization and employees can be a tough nut to crack – studies back this fact. As per a Partners in leadership workplace accountability study, 82% of the leaders acknowledge that they have limited to no ways for holding their employees accountable.  

Despite being challenging to achieve, employee accountability is nonetheless attainable. It’ll be better to start with basics first to understand what accountability is and the role it will play in piloting your organization towards the desired objectives and success! 

What is employee accountability?

Make sure you don’t commit the mistake of having a wrong perception of the meaning of accountability. It is in no way means trying to catch your employees doing something wrong, ratting out at them, or laying down a strict set of rules with a punitive approach. Rather than fostering a proactive atmosphere of responsibility and accountability, this negative approach will drive a negative culture of management by rules. So, what actually is accountability?

Employee accountability is all about setting and holding them to a common expectation by clearly defining the organization’s values, mission and goals. It signifies holding all level employees of your organization responsible for their actions, behaviors, decisions, and performance. This links to an upliftment to commitment towards work and employee morale, which ushers to higher performance. It recognizes that other team members and the organization’s performance depend on the results of your employee’s work. When they are held accountable, they wear the cap of responsibility for results and don’t assume it to be someone else’s job. To sum it up, it’s contrary to passing the buck. 

While performance management fosters employee accountability, it balances it out by giving your employees autonomy in their roles. It gives them the sense of both accountability and empowerment to perform their duties so they take ownership of their work and at the same time strive for excellence. Fostering such a balanced culture, performance management programs yield a high-performing organization. 

As per a study, lack of accountability in the organization results in:

a) Unclear priorities across the teams

b) Reduced employee engagement

c) Low level of trust

d) Low team morale

e) Unmet individual and team goals

f) High rate of turnover

As you must’ve realized by now, the hidden aspect of performance management – employee accountability is one of the most underrated benefits of the prominent tool. Let’s take a glance at some fruitful benefits of employee accountability for your organization. 

What are the benefits of employee accountability?

1. Strengthens culture

Lack of accountability in your organization can have a snowball effect throughout your teams. When accountability is embedded into the fabric of your company, you make accountability every employee’s responsibility by setting meaningful goals and team buy-in, enhancing trust through encouragement and support, and empowering them to attain the goals. 

2. Establishes trust

When you hold your employees accountable for doing what they are assumed to, it breeds trust amongst all. It allows them to count on one other for fulfilling duties, meeting deadlines, and approaching each other for help. Fostering employee accountability gives your organization this safe space that strengthens your employees, teams, and organization. 

3. Better performance

The direct impact of fostering employee accountability is a huge upsurge in efficiency and productivity. How? Informing your employees of who is responsible for what eliminates the haze and saves time, allowing them to meet their clearly defined objectives. Including actionable and specific feedback plus an evaluation, the mechanism is critical to make your employee accountable and perform better. 

How to make employee accountability a core part of my organization’s culture?

Leaders need to ensure that their organization’s accountability dignifies employees’ work and pushes them to make grander achievements – without making them feel insignificant and demeaned. Here’s how you can establish employee accountability in your organization without facing any resistance: 

1. Lead by example 

As mentioned previously, as a leader you are the pacesetter of the performance, tone, and culture of your organization. Your employees will follow what you lead. To begin with, if you are not holding yourself accountable by showing up late to the meetings, not owning up to the mistakes, and pushing deadlines over and over again, your team will definitely follow the suit. 

2. Establish team goals

A culture of accountability is impossible to be established in your organization if you are not setting goals in a constructive manner. To set goals that promote accountability, they ought to be measurable, challenging, and specific. Performance management tools make it all easy as it gives you the option of the OKR framework (objectives and key results). The beauty of  OKR methodology is that they are not top-down and are easily trackable. 

3. Build a feedback culture 

When your work culture revolves around giving regular feedback, delivering and accepting both positive and negative feedback gets quite easy. A culture of employee accountability cannot be built without having feedback at its core. Make sure to be specific and honest. Specific feedback about their performance serves both your employee and the organization well. While in the feedback you have to inform your employees about what needs adjustment, don’t forget to appreciate the bits that worked well.

Employee accountability is one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of performance management programs. Organizations have realized that employee accountability can help their organizations to thrive by boosting their performance and engagement. Contact us today to get proficient advice regarding your employee accountability and performance management concerns! 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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