Accountability is one of those buzzwords that we’ve all heard thrown around that nobody seems exactly sure of the meaning of. So let’s clear it up. Accountability is the network of trust and support that motivates those working with your organisation to deliver on their commitments and take responsibility for their actions.

When it comes to meetings, accountability is the follow-through: the chair will assign a task, and if the assignee is accountable, it’ll be completed. When you have a lack of accountability in your team, you’ll see things like missed deadlines, repeat mistakes, work-based anxiety, or harmful micromanagement.

So let’s look at a few ways to foster a culture of accountability in your board and improve the quality of what you put into the world.

1. Establish Expectations

One of the quickest ways a worker might develop an accountability issue is for them to have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. Any time you are holding a team member accountable for something, you need to make a few things clear:

  • What the final outcome should look like.
  • How that outcome’s success will be measured.
  • How the team plans to achieve that outcome.

If you’re the team member and you don’t have a deep understanding of these things, open a discussion with the team. Talk through plans, question the nuances, and firmly define what their expectations are with quantifiable facts and goals. Knowing all this will boost your confidence and your team’s confidence in you.

2. Give Feedback

We said above that accountability is a network of support. Part of providing that support is to offer clear, actionable feedback to the team. Whether that feedback is positive or negative, it should above all be constructive. If you’re the chairperson, founder, CEO, CFO, committee leader, any type of authority figure within your organisation, you’ll have team members who report to you and provide their work for you to review.

In order to hold themselves accountable, these team members need to know when they’re drifting off-course, and how to course-correct effectively. By giving them feedback that includes actionable tasks and positive recognition of what’s gone well, you’ll be motivating them to get the job done well and building trust in each other’s abilities.

3. Don’t Cultivate Fear

We’ve all heard of that boss who likes to throw their weight around, make threats, and bully workers to get what they want. While this may provide them some results in the short-term, it will completely tank long-term accountability within their organisation.

Their staff retention will be abysmal, and those that do stay will likely do the bare minimum just because they don’t want to interact with the boss. Instead, when you cultivate a culture of trust and transparency, you encourage those around you to provide their best work and build their skills in order to stay accountable as the organisation develops.

Providing solid expectations and effective feedback go a long way to establishing this culture, but don’t forget to lead by example. Your own accountability is more important than anything, and showing your team that you know what you’re doing is a great morale booster.