10/04/2014

By Dr Lynda Shaw, cognitive neuroscientist and business psychologist,

The ‘Blame Game’ is rife in the business world. Just stand by the coffee machine and listen for the “it’s not my fault”, “it’s not my job to speak to HR about this”, “I wouldn’t have done it that way if you hadn’t told me to” and so on.

An organization that fosters low accountability, whereby people do not take responsibility for their actions leads to poor communication, lack of motivation, low productivity, stress and high staff turnover.

On the other hand a company that encourages high accountability will reap the rewards from clear understanding, strong internal and external relationships, a sense of control and staff loyalty.

This however, has to come from the top. If management styles are intimidating and aggressive, staff will avoid engaging in conversation to clarify understanding. If however, the managers are motivating and clear about agreed processes this is the start of strong accountability, which leads to success.

Once commitment from management is established, certain steps can be taken to drive accountability from all staff members.

Needless to say, the underlying foundation here is communication. Make sure each member of the team knows exactly what is expected of him or her and what he or she is responsible for. This needs to be agreed by all parties.
Weekly face-to-face meetings are an important part of the process, to ensure everyone is on target and to quickly iron out any unforeseen problems as a project evolves. Reviewing processes is wise as inevitably things change, but again this needs to be well communicated to all concerned.

Accountability needs to be transparent, but what about those who may be struggling with their goals? It is human nature to keep our head down if things are going wrong and hope a miracle will get us out of the fix.

This is why it is so important to have those weekly meetings and make sure everyone is heard. A culture that acknowledges mistakes happen and the only thing we can do is learn from them means that people will not be afraid and hide their head in the sand thus making things worse.

By the same token, praise is also a key. We all know that reward happens when results are good, but the steps taken to get to those results should not be overlooked. Therefore, praising staff members in front of one another when a particular action or process has gone well will create a more motivated workforce.

All of these steps will result in accountable staff and a culture that will be profitable and thrive.