Select Page

How to Make Your Company Culture More Accountable

You may be thinking that I’ll be proclaiming “Ensure your employees are held accountable for their work”. If so, you are right, but there is more to it than that.

Are there ways you can make your company culture more accountable than you are currently? There are many ways to make a company culture more accountable. The first step is to create a transparent and clear communication system.

Leaders Go First

Accountability is a two-way street, and guess what…leaders go first. At least good leaders do.

You see, leaders who want to create a culture that is accountable and where individuals and teams take accountability for what they work on and how they work together- need to be accountable first.

In other words, if you are going to ask others to be more accountable in their roles, you have to start holding yourself accountable.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that leaders need to:

  • Start saying what they mean and meaning what they say. There is no room for talking behind people’s backs. Employees can smell a leader who is not authentic from a mile away and will be more likely to hold you accountable if you are honest with them- both the good and the bad.
  • It means being intentional with your time and showing up to important meetings on time or early so you are not wasting the other person’s time.
  • You need to be honest about what is expected of them and their role- both professional growth and performance reviews, as well as how they fit into your teams.

Creating Clarity on Expected Outcomes

Setting and tracking KPIs are an important part of creating an Accountability Culture, but it starts even before that. I’ll share with you what we do at my company, Phillips Home Improvements, because it’s worked for us, and I bet it will help you on your journey to improve accountability in your company or team.

Creating Accountability Starts with Creating Clarity

We begin accountability conversations during the hiring process. Most companies hand out job descriptions. Rather than give a new employee a list of tasks to do in a job description, we use something called KRA’s.

What are KRA’s?

KRA stands for Key Result Area.

A KRA is a set of measurable results an employee will produce in their role.

For example, here are a few KRA’s for our Project Managers:

  • Projects are run within budget at least 70% of the time.
  • Projects are finalized within 48 hours of scheduled completion. Finalized means that all promises are delivered in both directions, including and go-backs and payments.
  • Maintain an individual NPS(customer satisfaction rating) of 75% for the previous 90 days, indicating that clients received a WOW experience.

As you can see, these KRA’s present the past-tense outcome of all of their efforts. It boils it all down to what you want the employee to accomplish in their role. It’s simple to understand. When it’s simple to understand, it’s easier to own.

Ownership of Outcomes

We want our people to take ownership of the outcomes we expect them to achieve. In order to do this, we need to help them understand what the outcomes are and the role they play in making that happen.

For example, a Project Manager’s job is to lead his team through a project from start to finish. Part of that involves building a good relationship with the client. We want our managers to be accountable for developing trust and a great relationship with our clients because it helps us build a reputation for being “client-centric”.

When we have clear outcomes, and employees know what is important to the organization, they are more likely to focus on those things. They own their roles, and that ownership drives accountability.

Once you both are clear on the expected outcomes, you can begin to discuss what it looks likes to achieve those outcomes. The goal when discussing these topics is to make sure the two of you are on the same page for what would be important day-to-day tasks from both party’s expectations.

Followup and Accountability

We take accountability even further by reviewing Scorecards in weekly meetings, keeping performance against expectations visible and on the front burner. We also connect weekly and monthly commissions and incentives to the achievements of these areas of performance.

This creates an “automatic system of rewards” and slightly eases the effort needed to manage by offloading some of the management to the employee himself. This is in no way a substitute for real leadership and management, but it definitely is a reinforcement.

Create a Safety Net

Develop a safety net for your team members. A safety net will encourage your teammates to acknowledge mistakes and will help them develop an accountability culture. An open communication line is also helpful to create a culture of accountability. Be open and honest with your teammates. If you’re having trouble with someone, don’t be afraid to let them know. They’ll be more likely to talk about a problem if they’re comfortable doing so.

Quarterly Resets

KRA’s tend to remain constant for the positions in our company, but the metric by which it is measured may change from time to time as the needs of the business change. Again, we set this expectation right upfront so that there is no surprise when things do change. Plus, the employee is always part of the authorship of the metrics. Authorship increases ownership.

How to Get Started

It is important for leaders to be accountable so they can show their employees how to do the same. Once you’re ready to increase accountability in your company, you may want to follow these three steps:

1.    Establish KRA’s – Set initial expectations. You can even start with existing employees. Get the conversation started by asking them what success looks like to them.

2.    Review KPIs Weekly – Create & maintain visibility with some key numbers that the employee has substantial control over.

3.    Connect Compensation and Rewards – That paycheck silently reinforces what is important. This creates a win-win scenario.

In Summary

Rather than “impose accountability”, give them ownership through clarity and authorship, and then they can more easily embrace accountability.

You’ll also want to:

  • Provide tools and training
  • Create emotional safety
  • Provide the right amount of oversight and coaching
  • Address gaps in expectations quickly
  • Celebrate wins

We’ll have to discuss more at another time. It will take time and patience to build your Accountability Culture, but it’s worth it because a culture of accountability promotes employee morale and improves productivity.

Additional resources*

Accountability Leadership: How Great Leaders Build a High Performance Culture of Accountability and Responsibility

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

* Full disclosure: Although I may earn a small commission when you purchase one of these items, this snack money is certainly not the reason for my recommendation. I ONLY MAKE RECOMMENDATION for products that I BELIEVE IN and have made a difference in my life or business.