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Build a Culture of Accountability in 5 Steps

What do "accountable"employees do differently? They quickly acknowledge their mistakes and failures and learn from the experience

Source | | Doug and Polly White

Recently, one of our clients asked us how she could improve the culture of her business. She wanted her employees to be more engaged and to take “ownership.” We told her that, in simple terms, she was describing a culture of accountability.

What do accountable employees do differently? For one thing, they quickly acknowledge their mistakes and failures and focus on correcting the situation and learning from the experience. In addition, accountable employees don’t pass the buck or blame others. They keep their word and honor their commitments even when they would prefer not to. Finally, accountable employees push through and find a way to get the job done despite the various obstacles and setbacks.

Clearly, then, a culture of accountability is desirable — in any organization. And accountability, as we recently wrote, comes from the top. To create accountability at your own company, make sure you have solid, consistent leadership that demonstrates and rewards accountable behaviors. Have your leadership model the accountable traits you desire in your employees. To do that, build the culture you want using the following three important steps: 

Hire people who will take responsibility.

You need great material from which to build your organization. Therefore, hiring the right people is important. You have probably heard that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Most HR professionals would agree that for hiring, it is important to probe for past behaviors and actions, and their results, to have a better idea of how an employee might perform in similar circumstances.

We suggest looking for people with a history of accountability. What types of roles have they held in the past? Did they seek out leadership positions in school, in personal pursuits or in previous jobs?

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