The actions and conversations needed to establish accountability in a workplace and organization can be difficult. Partner of PJS & Co. CPAs and vCFO, Jaime Staley along with Host Megan Spicer discuss developing a culture that nurtures accountability in your organization. They talk about how it looks when you are lacking accountability, how to identify it and ways to encourage accountability. 


What we cover in this episode: 

      • 01:49 – What does accountability mean in your organization?
      • 03:40 – Lack of accountability can show up in different ways
      • 05:32 – What can you do to encourage accountability

What does accountability mean in your organization?

Accountability is a characteristic and action to have in life and in business; but what is it? Jaime Staley’s description is “Overall, I think accountability refers to taking responsibility for your actions. Ideally, it’s that person is driven to do so on their own and not necessarily that you have to make them or that you have to follow up.”. 


In a workplace this can look many different ways. Jaime gives an example of what taking accountability looks like. “I gave you a project, you are going to really take ownership of it. That’s kind of usually how I look at accountability is ownership. If I’m giving you this, I want you to own the project. I want you to take it from start to finish, and I’m just assuming that you’re gonna take care of that all and come back to me with questions, and if issues pop up, you are going be proactive and say, Hey, I’m running into these issues…but not everybody has the same level of accountability”.


Since everybody does not have the same level of accountability; you have to put measures in place to know that things are going to get done. But how do you know if they aren’t getting done? 

Lack of accountability can show up in different ways

Pinpointing how the lack of accountability is showing up in your organization is, of course, essential to fixing it. Sometimes that lack of accountability can show up in your organization is through lack of communication, a reactive approach versus proactive, and blame shifting or finger pointing. 


Communication in every organization, business and personal is an extremely important factor that can be an ongoing process to perfecting. Jaime talks about signs that this could be a factor. “If you don’t hear about it for a while, you’re not getting regular updates that progress is being made. We tend to assume that it’s happening, but then sometimes when we go back to it, we’re like, Oh wait, you haven’t actually started the process. Or you’re not hearing about the project at all, there could be a problem that it’s not being worked on.” 

To stem off communication, sometimes it happens with shifting the responsibility or pointing fingers. “…That wasn’t my responsibility, I thought this person was taking care of it. That’s probably a lack of communication as well…. So you wanna make sure you’re communicating well as far as, ‘Hey, I am giving this to you and I am giving you the ownership to make sure it goes from start to finish’.”

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Another way the lack of accountability could show is when employees become reactive instead of proactive. “ If you’re seeing a lot of people, point fingers or say, Hey, that’s not me, that could be a concern. And then if you’re looking outside of your control, right? Somebody else is causing this issue, somebody else gave me more work, so I wasn’t able to get this accomplished. Or maybe reactive instead of proactive. If they’re being proactive, they should be evaluating the project, coming up with any issues, communicating, getting things to completion, and maybe letting you know the status.”


Creating a process and consistency can help combat the lack of accountability. Jaime clarifies this: “So having more clearly defined processes within different departments or areas can really help get people an idea of accountability and what they should be doing. So if you have a process; here’s the first step, here’s the second step, here’s the third step…what are the steps to complete this task?”


What can you do to encourage accountability?

Being able to promote accountability and encourage it starts with the owner or manager and leadership. Pointing your staff in the right direction and “rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior” is a step in the right direction. 


Understanding what motivates your team and everyone as an individual can help inspire them to want to work harder or to be proactive. When employees feel appreciated and understood they tend to work harder and better for the company. If there are teams working together on a project, can you identify each of their strengths and assign them tasks relative to these strengths so you know they are more willing and capable to get the job done. Clearly defining individual roles and responsibilities 


Establishing clear goals and communicating expectations can help drive accountability. Without numbers, timelines or milestones, there can be confusion and lack of sense of urgency to complete projects. Setting healthy expectations and relaying effective communication on the expectations of a project can help make employees proactive instead of reactive. 



With the closing words of Jaime Staley, here is why developing a culture that nurtures accountability is important. “Accountability is so important. It can also be very tricky. So you wanna tread lightly and have good discussions and communication. If you can get accountability to be a core part of your culture, I think the success is gonna come a lot more easily than if you have a lot of team members who aren’t as accountable. So I definitely highly recommend trying to encourage as much accountability. It will be great for you, it’ll be great for your team… it’s just something that really can benefit the organization as a whole.”

Links Mentioned In This Episode


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