Accountability: It’s a Partnership


I recently met with one of my team members to discuss a few improvements I thought she could make. It led us to a conversation about accountability—why it’s important in a manager/employee relationship and necessary in the work place.

Why hold employees accountable?

The short answer is that it’s my job as a manager. The somewhat longer answer is that I believe good employees truly want to know when they are doing something wrong or can improve. The employee sees that I care about my role as manager, gets a goal to work towards, and understands that I appreciate them. If I didn’t care about the work of my direct reports or their potential for higher achievement, I wouldn’t bother to point out areas of improvement. My job as a manager is to help someone move from competency to proficiency. Giving consistent and timely feedback and gently identifying areas that need improvement can create a bond between manager and employee. Although pointing out someone’s shortcomings or handling a difficult situation may hurt them (and me) in the moment of communication, I have to counterbalance that with knowing it is necessary (for me and them). It’s my job to help my team be better employees. Do I think about how they will accept the message I’m trying to deliver and then deliver it in a way that I think they can understand and accept? Yes. Does it sting for the employee at first? I’m sure it does, but when I circle back with them a week later at our next scheduled coaching session, often they have had a chance to gain perspective and see my point.

Why is accountability so important for staff morale?

One of the quickest ways to lower morale in an office is by letting things slide and not holding employees accountable. It creates a breeding ground for resentment and negativity. If an organization has standard rules and practices, and some don’t bother to adhere to those rules, everyone notices. That means the person that doesn’t follow the rules and especially those that do. Your team loses respect for you. It creates an atmosphere where rules become jokes. Rules, goals, and processes are in place for a reason. Accountability doesn’t mean a screaming match or being mean. A short uncomfortable conversation with a team member in the long run is necessary and shows a leader’s commitment to the employee’s performance and respect for the goals of the company.

How does accountability affect engagement and retention?

Finally, accountability helps everyone to know where they stand—owner, manager, and employee. Consistent and thoughtful feedback on employees is necessary to keep your talent engaged, hold retention, and set boundaries. Employees want clear expectations. I have never heard an employee say, “I like not knowing where I stand.” What you allow is what will continue. Listen, observe, evaluate, and coach your staff, and hold them to the standards of your organization.


Written by: Karen Truesdale

Karen Truesdale is celebrating her 14th year with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing and is proud to say that Godshall turns 50 this year! #golden50forGodshall