Improving Employee Accountability

These steps can help you build a team that meets your expectations without any micromanaging

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When you hire new team members, you have a certain set of expectations for them. Ultimately, you want them to be punctual, productive and quality-minded members of your company, adding real value and upholding your team’s mission and values.

Of course, you can’t hand-hold your employees or micromanage them every step of the way. You have to trust them to perform at a high level and to meet certain expectations. That’s really a matter of accountability. Each employee needs to have a clear sense of the standard to which you’re holding them, and they need to be prepared to meet that standard even when you’re not looking their way.

Here are some simple yet effective suggestions for steps you can take to build accountability into your team dynamic.

Set expectations sooner rather than later.

It’s unfair to hold your employees accountable to a standard you haven’t clearly articulated to them. Make sure you’re very clear about the kind of professionalism you expect from your employees, ideally outlining your expectations in an employee handbook or similar document. Begin this early; start clarifying your standards during the onboarding process.

Give feedback early and often.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is reserving all your feedback for annual employee reviews. Such sporadic appraisal hardly helps your employees be accountable. Instead, take the time to offer both praise and constructive criticism whenever you have the chance. Don’t wait until your employees mess up a dozen times before you tell them; bring it to their attention the first time there’s a problem and set them on a path for course correction.

Provide some autonomy.

Simply put, accountability doesn’t exist apart from real freedom and responsibility. You need to show your employees that you trust them to carry out their tasks without being micromanaged. Once employees are onboarded and start to get the swing of things, delegate some responsibilities to them, being sure to outline your expectations for the results. Also clarify how you wish employees to report outcomes to you.

Be clear about consequences.

There are probably some types of behavior you just won’t tolerate and need to penalize. That’s perfectly appropriate, but it’s vital to be clear about what the punishable offenses are. Again, this is something you might wish to put in writing, such as in an employee handbook.

Be mission minded.

Your employees may have different roles and unique day-to-day duties, but you should ultimately have everyone united behind a common purpose. Make sure you have a clear sense of mission, or a list of goals, for your business and that everyone knows how their role contributes to the big picture.

Have an open door.

Holding your people accountable does not mean leaving them to fend for themselves; make it clear to employees that they can come to you with questions or concerns. Having an open-door policy is vital for creating a culture of accountability.

About the Author

Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


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