5 Ways to Hold Employees Accountable
by Sharmita Shee Business Development 18 December 2018
According to Merriam Webster, accountability is “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. This is important at both the individual and team levels of an organization. Many managers struggle to hold workers accountable because they fear alienating them or to create discord in the office. However, accountability is important for the achievement of company goals.
Here are five ways to hold employees accountable without creating too much disruption.
Don’t be Afraid of Difficult Conversations:
Holding a staff member accountable doesn’t have to be confrontational or accusatory. Managers should focus on the employee’s performance and not who they are as a person. If your company uses an app to track employees’ presence on job sites or the times they report for work, you may notice one person is always late or they take longer lunches than allowed. Instead of accusing them of being lazy, ask them why they are putting in less time than they should. They may reveal that they have a personal issue which they need time to address. The company may be able to help them. If you don’t talk to the worker, you won’t know.
Other reasons workers may not be fulfilling their duties include:
- Not receiving clear instructions
- Not receiving adequate training
- Having conflicting priorities
- Having technical problems
Address Poor Performance as soon as Possible:
As soon as you notice an employee isn’t working up to par, have a one-on-one chat with them. It is unlikely that they will get better if the problem isn’t addressed. Moreover, the longer you wait, the more frustrated you will get. You need to find out what is behind the employee’s struggles. It’s possible they may need more training or incentives to produce. However, they may be slacking because they aren’t being challenged enough or they need to be managed with a firmer hand. An honest, open conversation will help you to figure out which one it is. Depending on the situation, you may need to put your expectations in black and white so the employee knows exactly what they need to do. That way, they can’t say they were unaware of their duties.
Understand Employee’s Limitations:
Not all your workers have the same strengths. Sometimes employees are pushed into departments or assigned to projects they are not equipped to handle. An excellent worker may make a poor leader. A sound technical worker may struggle on group projects which require lots of communication. Get to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
One of the reasons they may be making mistakes or performing poorly is that they are the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Try to use your employees in areas in which they will shine and their weaknesses won’t be obvious. This will boost their self-confidence as well as overall morale.
Take the Employee’s Feelings into Consideration:
A worker with low productivity can impact the entire organization. They can even cause the business to lose revenue. However, they may see themselves as just one cog in the wheel and not think that they are having a huge effect on the business. When you talk to them, don’t talk down to them. Express concern about their well-being. Gently explain how their performance is affecting other workers and try to devise a way forward.
Let’s say an employee was always on time for an 8 a.m. start but they are now showing up at 9 a.m. You may discover that their child recently switched schools and they have to drive further to drop them off. Maybe the employee no longer has a car and they have to take unreliable public transport. Take a look at your company’s policies and see which solutions can be implemented. The worker may be able to officially start at 9 and work later into the evening or even work from home some days of the week.
Ensure Managers Are Approachable:
This is perhaps the best way to ensure accountability. Workers should be able to come to you with problems even before they noticeably begin to affect their work. If there is something happening in their personal lives that will impact their concentration or punctuality, they should feel free to approach a manager. If a company policy or practice is affecting them negatively, they should feel similarly comfortable. Open-door policies go a long way in ensuring a healthy working environment.
Many workers know when they have made mistakes or they aren’t living up to their true potential. When they don’t get the push they need, they may be unmotivated and unhappy. When their poor performance isn’t addressed, other employees may lower their previously high standards. They may also begin to resent the manager for not stepping in. This creates problems for morale all around. Putting systems in place for employee accountability makes a big difference.