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Fostering a culture of employee accountability
Accountable employees who take pride in their work can be a determining factor in your organization’s success. For small businesses, often there is an owner onsite acting as the face of the business. But as those businesses start to grow, that role is soon filled by new faces—faces of employees that can make or break your company’s hard-earned reputation.Are you looking for ways to foster a culture where people take ownership and pride in their work? Keep reading for ways to design your work environment around the concept of accountability.Five steps to accountability
When you have a culture of accountability, people own their work and the outcomes derived from it, resulting in more satisfied customers, continuous improvement and an increased bottom line. Here are five steps to cultivating employee ownership and accountability in your small business.

  1. Hire the right people: Hiring people who identify with your mission, appeal to your team and take initiative to continually improve is step one in cultivating accountability. Define your expectations up front, and be open and honest about what it’s like to work for your organization. Brainstorm your top five values and imprint them on a folder containing literature you’ll be sharing with prospects. And, instead of hiring based on a one-on-one interview, hold a staff meeting where current team members and prospective employees can discuss the job, your work environment and the organization’s culture. Ensure there’s plenty of time for Q&A to ensure a cultural fit for all before extending an offer.
  2. Define individual roles while not losing sight of the team: A work environment riddled with ambiguity and assumptions is sure to fail. On the contrary, when employees know exactly what is expected of them and when, there is less confusion and fewer things fall through the cracks. However, it is important to note individual responsibilities don’t take the place of teamwork. A sense of ownership for one’s self, as well as for the team as a whole, ensures everyone succeeds in his or her roles. Stay in the loop and keep tabs on everyone’s progress and workload. Solicit feedback and suggestions at weekly meetings to check for gaps and look for process improvements.
  3. Empower your employees: The empowered employee is more committed, more loyal and more likely to offer great ideas on how to make improvements to your organization and its processes. Employees who are encouraged to question, suggest and even challenge business practices are more apt to feel their input is valuable and therefore will be more likely to share thoughts and ideas—a win for employee and employer alike. Solicit feedback with occasional polls or surveys focused on process improvements. Show gratitude to those who take the time to participate with a logo’d lunch bag or travel mug.
  4. Create learning opportunities: Accountability doesn’t mean missed goals or failed ideas are punished. Rather, they should be viewed as opportunities to learn. Organizations that are continually focused on learning from mistakes and improving upon them are much more likely to foster innovation and generate ideas. A learning organization develops far better than one that rules by invoking fear. Sharing lessons learned during weekly discussions is a great way to encourage personal and professional growth, while showing your employees we all make mistakes. Reward contributors with an USB Swing Drive or ear bud wrap imprinted with a thank-you message.
  5. Provide continuous feedback: Providing continuous feedback through multiple channels is a surefire way to foster an environment focused on improvement and accountability. Regularly scheduled one-on-one discussions, team meetings and timely evaluations can help identify and solve a problem or concern early on. And remember, if you’re a learning organization, these feedback opportunities will go both ways—both employee and employer will be able to fess up to mistakes and discover ways to improve upon them.

Fostering a culture of employee ownership and accountability can take your organization to the next level. Investing the time and energy to get it right now may help your business for years to come.

Leibner, Josh. “Unlocking the Power of Accountability With Your Employees.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 13 Oct. 2013. Web. Retrieved 18 Mar. 2014.

Browning, Henry. “7 Ways to Build Accountable Organizations.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. Retrieved 18 Mar. 2014.

Richards, Leigh, Demand Media. “What Are the Benefits of Employee Empowerment?” Small Business. Chron.com  N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 18 Mar. 2014.

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