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Accountability can be almost a magical thing — when everyone in an organization is accountable, that’s when you know you’re doing something right as a leader. Unfortunately, the comparison goes both ways in the sense that this kind of organizational accountability can be a rare sight.

While some business professionals may argue that accountability is an intrinsic quality of every team member, effective managers know that it can be encouraged and nurtured. There’s only one requirement, but it poses a tremendous task: designing the work environment to nurture a culture of accountability. Here are our four tips to achieve active accountability in organizations:

1. Define Roles within Teams

Having a team with undefined roles is a managerial nightmare. When multiple people are working on the same tasks at the same time, it becomes complicated for anyone to be accountable. Confusion within a team can quickly cause absolute chaos in the day-to-day functioning of an organization. As the leader, it’s your job not to leave any roles ambiguous. Make sure your team members know what they need to do at any time, and they’ll have an easier time staying accountable.

This is done by setting context for the role. The manager should not, in fact, must not babysit and micromanage employees. The goal is to provide them sufficient information about their job with respect top your vision and goals, that they understand how to take initiatives and make decisions that are consistent with your mission.

2. Create a Shared Purpose

Once every team member understands their role and its requirements, you should work on creating a shared sense of purpose. In other words, when you provide them with their narrow focus, you must also make sure that the entire team is on the same page and understands the bigger picture. This is done by openly sharing your departmental plan, which has been developed within the context of your own boss’ plan. Let the team members weigh in on it as well to help you define what your collective goal is and how you’ll measure success.

3. Delegate Work Properly

It’s impossible for any employee to be accountable if they have to get permission for the decisions they should be authorized to make themselves. As the team leader, your job is to break down those things you are accountable for and delegate appropriately-sized tasks to your team members. This is value-added work that only you can do, so that the team overall is providing the outcomes you need for success in your role. This is described in the Effective Point of Accountability® methodology. It ensures that the team member has the authority to make the decisions they need to get the work done. Your job as the manager is give them the tasks, tell them your expectations and provide them with the tools they might need. The QQT{R} approach is the perfect tool for doing this.

4. Create a Learning Environment

If your “incentive” to keep your team members and employees accountable is punishment if their tasks don’t get done, think about it again. While fear can be a powerful motivator that kills procrastination, it certainly doesn’t help the employees feel the intrinsic value of accountability. It’s essential to have employees that aren’t afraid to step up and think of a new approach to an old problem. To truly nurture responsibility, your first instinct when something goes wrong is to find out why it went wrong, and turn it into a learning experience. If there are any roadblocks along the way, your team will have an easier time overcoming them if they trust that you will have an appropriate response when things go wrong.

Pair this with finding examples where people have been successful, and commending them. Reinforcing success pays higher dividends that correcting errors. 

Creating and nurturing accountability in team members is one of the primary goals of any leader. It ensures that the business runs smoothly and that the entire organization can deliver high-quality work. By following the Effective Managers methodology, you can take your organization’s accountability to the next level and crush your business goals.

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