2 Big Don’ts if You Want Accountability in Your Workplace


Do you feel that people in your workplace don’t do what they say they are going to do? Are you guilty of overcommitting…or under delivering? Or both? Accountability is a huge problem.

The Workplace Accountability Study recently revealed that 82% of respondents have no ability to hold others accountable, but 91% of people rank accountability as one of the top development needs they’d like to see at their organization.

Two don’ts when you want to create more accountability in your workplace.

    1. Don’t give advice. Giving advice is one of the worst things you can do when people come to you with problems. Yes, you read that right. When someone comes to you with an issue and you go straight to advice giving, you are training people to not do the problem solving and work themselves. This has huge consequences to a managers’ time. It can feel so good to give advice and share wisdom with a coworker or friend. If you don’t, the additional knock is that if your advice doesn’t work out well, people will blame you instead of themselves – hence, another accountability gap. An easy way to avoid giving advice is to go into question mode when someone brings you problem. Ask questions. And then more questions. And end the conversation asking what they are going to do next and by when. And watch your accountability levels rise…

      2. Don’t validate excuses.
      It is really hard to not go down excuse lane – it is alluring and even fun at times. The other fact is very real – many excuses are grounded in reality. They are real and true. The problem is that if you don’t want the excuses to exist in your workplace, you can’t feed them. I once talked with a young manager who shared her frustration about her team not delivering projects on deadline. When I asked her more questions, it seemed that every time someone came to her with a setback, she would validate it. She would say: Oh, I know the budget isn’t where it should be. Or oh, I know, it is a hard climate. Or oh, I understand, we do have a lot of projects on the table. I shared with her the fierce approach, which is to respond by saying, “Given that…. What can you do?” Given that the budget is small. Given that the climate is very competitive. Given that there is a lot going on.Instead of saying “okay”. Ask what the person will do about it, given all of the challenges. Instead of talking about the excuses, talk about the solutions and next steps. Talk about what can actually be achieved. It is important to have the person choose what the solution is and commit. This is the only way real change will happen.

Because at the end of the day, fierce accountability is a nonnegotiable choice that someone makes on how to live their life. This is not something you can control for anyone except yourself. However, the beauty is that you can create an environment where people choose accountability. Where people choose to show up fully and committed.

You must do your part. Stay away from the two “no-no’s”.

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