Accountability: People Management Series 4

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As a leader working with teams, it is important to understand Accountability. Understanding why the idea that every employee should take ownership of the work they have been given will help you improve your employees' performance, your clients' satisfaction and the company's organizational culture development. Want to know more? Keep reading the fourth of a series of tips on how to become a better people manager.

First, context

Me: Why didn’t you warn about the problem?

Friend: I am not in charge of that, it is not my responsibility.

I recently heard it from a friend about a project that did not end on the right terms.

Then, this made me think:

While working on the project, he foresaw problems but did not say anything about it as, according to him, it was what the client was asking for. Furthermore, that it corresponded to the manager or business agent.


To BE or To be HOLD responsible

With thar in mind: What is better?

  • Hold your people accountable?
  • That they are responsible?

The fact is that being a manager is not about you having the power and authority to make EVERYTHING work properly just by “mandate”.

Overall, thinking your team needs specific and detailed directions, threats, restrictions without justification, and constant surveillance, or that favorable results are “thanks to you” or unfavorable ones are “they are responsible” IS a BIG MISTAKE.

The truth is that everyone should be accountable for their own results, generate initiatives and follow up thoroughly and strategically on them and fulfill their commitments.


Responsible, Obligated, Liable, Expected

Given these points, to make it easier for each and every one to be properly accountable, we must set expectations since the beginning by defining the ROLE.

For each task it must be completely clear that one is:

  • Responsible for completing goals in a timely manner within the defined parameters, either time or money.

  • Obligated to answer to someone. Peers, clients, stakeholders, etc.

  • Liable on the respective results and their consequences.

  • Expected to explain or justify their actions and decisions.

Promoting Responsibility

All in all, the best way promoting our people to be responsible is through:

  • Goals and Expectations: allow them to define their work and goals aligned to the business; to be proactive and take initiative.
  • Autonomy and Trust: they will seek to exceed their standards, but do not lose track. (More info about this here!).
  • Purpose and Connection: involve and promote rather than command and control.
  • Candor and Transparency: inspire to stand out instead of remain in mediocrity. Make sure they know the importance of their contribution.
  • Training and Feedback: do not give solutions, let them find them and ask questions.


Back to the starting point.

Was my friend responsible or not?

Of course it was. While his lack of proactivity was not the root cause of the negative results, it did contribute to it happening.

Ultimately, the business advantages of having responsible people are clear:

  • Better performance and preparation for greater challenges
  • Less conflict and confusion
  • Exceed standards

And for one, as a manager:

  • Time spent on supervision and dealing with mediocre and poor performance is reduced.

Thanks for reading!

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