A culture of accountability is one where everyone in the organization, regardless of position or job description, is committed to achieving the goals and key results the team is aiming for. They don’t wait to be asked for a follow-up plan or a progress report. It is also where no one is afraid to take responsibility for mistakes they committed.
Everyone—from the owners and managers to the employees in the lower echelon—is held to the same moral and ethical standards. No one is exempt from the demand to be transparent.
All these marks of accountability are essential for every place of work or company. When mistakes are committed, that’s when persons or institutions will truly show where their intentions lie. Here are the building blocks or basic framework for taking accountability when you or your organization makes a mistake.
The first step to creating a culture of accountability is to first be open to the perspective of those who have a concern. If you truly want your company to be a place that’s open to valid criticism and feedback, then the leaders, managers, and employees need to be open to obtaining the perspective of others. The communication lines should be open to anyone who wants to provide feedback or raise valid concerns. Not everyone has the spine to hear hard things, but it’s crucial if we want to right wrongs and address deficiencies.
Seeing the conflict and the problems entails recognizing where an individual or the organization missed the mark because failing to do so will neglect the root cause of the issues and lead to poor resolutions. To see the problems is to acknowledge and accept reality for what it is, and it’s the first step to solving it.
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is allowing themselves to be so ruled by fear of lawsuits that they fail to admit where a wrong has been made, or a mistake has been committed. It shouldn’t be a surprise that as humans, our knee-jerk reaction to someone pointing out our error is to be on the defensive and make excuses. This tendency is the same whether an individual commits the wrong or the institution.
If you truly want to build a culture of accountability in your company, don’t be afraid to own up to the mistakes and take responsibility for them. Instead of denying the impact of the individual or organization’s role in the outcomes, everyone needs to identify what steps they can take not to commit the same mistakes the next time they are faced with the same circumstances.
It’s all about telling those who were wronged: “We see where we missed the target, and we promise not to make the same mistakes in the future. These are the steps we are taking to ensure it.”
Taking accountability is not just about apologizing; it’s all about offering restitution. It’s about accepting the consequences and the impact of the mistake committed. For example, suppose an employee was hurt on the job, and they ended up hiring a personal injury lawyer. In that case, the organization needs to accept that this is a natural consequence of the incident.
Essentially, the question that this step asks is, “What else can I do to make this right?” Aside from asking for forgiveness and offering compassion, this step is all about offering reparations.
Once we have heard from the other side the results they want, it’s time to do it. Here are some steps for working towards a shared resolution or vision for the future:
- Creating new boundaries that are favorable to all parties and staying focused on the key results and objectives
- Being proactive and relentless in the follow-up
- Walking the talk and doing what you promised, and
- Thoroughly measuring everyone’s progress as they work towards achieving the intended goal or result
Doing something about the conflict or issue is all about collaborating to achieve the desired result, channeling the organization’s energy and resources towards positive outcomes for both sides, and internalizing the need for a change instead of expecting the other side to fix it themselves.
Start from the Top
Last but not the least, it’s crucial for business owners and managers to embody this spirit of accountability first and foremost. If they model this well, their employees will be more likely to follow their example and emulate their values and behavior. Do not underestimate the influence of company managers over their subordinates. Start from the top and let it cascade to everyone in the organization. Good luck!