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Accountability In The Workplace: A Self-Help Guide

By Lisa Woods (902 words)
Posted in Professional Development on June 19, 2017

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Somewhere, in a faraway land, a long, long time ago, accountability was something an individual strove to achieve, quietly, on their own, in an effort to learn, improve their skills, earn more responsibility and be trusted by those around them to work in a way that achieves a defined value to the organization.


That’s right, accountability was something you built, over time, by working hard, proving your skills and building trust. Communicating accountability was a humbling effort, by doing your job well and asking for more, by choosing to work well with others and helping them to succeed.


Accountability was a self-driven skill, one that made you feel good, feel accomplished, and without boundaries, because when this skill is developed, you learn to trust yourself. You trust your own process of acquiring information, learning to apply that information to your job and owning the result of your work.


An accountable individual holds themself accountable for their work before they even start it, because accountability is an individual’s own trusted process, a unique skillset developed within successful professionals….a skillset they choose to apply to their job.


Is this skillset within you? Have you taken the time to develop it?


Why, you might ask, did I start this article by describing accountability as a long lost skill? It’s because I find that accountability has become an aftermath these days. Business moves very quickly, the amount of information at your fingertips is enormous, and we seem to judge ourselves on how fast we move in this environment, vs. how well we move in this environment. Managers hold their employees accountable for results rather than holding themselves accountable for hiring and developing accountable people. Leaders choose a team or a team member to be responsible for the accountability of others rather than choosing an accountable team. We act, and then account for, when we should be accounting for, and then acting…it seems backward, inefficient and a trend worth reversing.


So what can you do to reverse this trend? How do you develop your accountability skillset and, if you’re a manager, encourage employees to do the same? Start by setting a great example.


Building Your Accountability Skillset:


Step 1: Set some goals to develop your skillset.


  1. I’m going to prove to myself and others that I’m fully responsible for the quality of my current work, before asking for more responsibility.


  2. I’m going to define areas where I’m weak, could use training, or need support, and then develop an action plan to fill those gaps.


  3. I’m going to develop my own working process that others can rely on.

    • Define what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, when it needs to be done, who is involved and how the result will impact individuals, groups and the business.

    • Commit to the work, the timeline and the result.

    • Communicate that commitment to all involved. (via email, team meetings, phone calls, casual discussion)

    • Communicate progress and results on a consistent and frequent basis to all involved.

Step 2: Hold yourself accountable for your results.


  1. Take ownership of understanding your role, your goals and responsibilities.


  2. Take ownership of understanding the roles, goals and responsibilities of those around you so you can work effectively with others.


  3. Take ownership of your progress so that you can identify risks and do what needs to be done to mitigate or overcome roadblocks before they impact your work.


Step 3: Be consistent in your approach.


  1. Use this skillset as often as possible so that others learn to expect it from you and trust you to work in this manner no matter whom you are working with.


Step 4: Coach & mentor others.


  1. If you manage others, coach & mentor them through the first three steps.



We are all individuals with different personalities that leave a mark on those around us. That mark is different based on how well we connect with someone or what we have in common. Essentially, our reputation at work, what we are known for, tends to be different depending on whom you ask. However, when you purposefully build your accountability skillset, you are deciding how others collectively see you & trust your abilities in the workplace. It’s about building your professional brand.


Reputations happen (good or bad), brands are built….and tend to be more valuable in the long run.


That faraway land of accountable people is a business utopia. I can’t stress enough how building your accountability skillset is worth your time and effort.


If you are looking for a kick-start, check out 4 Essential Skills for Leaders, Managers & High Potentials.


Good luck!




Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com   

Lisa, a thought leader in Business Management and Leadership, founded ManagingAmericans.com in 2011 after 20+ years successfully leading and driving growth in the corporate world. Her objective is to help mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors in a “do-it-yourself” learning environment using unique & practical tools to support the process. Lisa’s career spans from Global Sales & Marketing to General Management of Multinational Conglomerates. Today she continues to consult small business owners through her private practice. Lisa's publications include: • 4 Essential Skills for Leaders, Managers & High Potentials © 2013 • The Cross Functional Business: Beyond Teams © 2015 • Action Item List: Drive Your Team With One Simple Tool © 2016 • Small Business Planning Made Simple: What To Consider Before You Invest © 2017



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