Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance

Webinars     Workshops      Articles

Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance

Accountability written on a typewriter
Share This Post:

Your organization’s ability to manage accountability is key to its success. Among top-performing organizations, 77% of leaders reported employees of all levels are held accountable for results. Only 44% of leaders said this was true at less successful organizations. So, what is accountability?

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance


Accountability is the cornerstone of any successful team or organization. It refers to the willingness and obligation of individuals to take responsibility for their actions, decisions, and their subsequent outcomes. It involves being answerable for personal conduct and ensuring that one’s behavior aligns with the set goals and values of the team or organization. Accountability fosters trust, transparency, and reliability within a group, contributing to a positive and productive work environment.

Accountability Busters

There are four “Accountability Busters” that inhibit accountability in people:

  1. Talking about an idea but not agreeing to actions and accountability by people’s names, and people thus assuming someone else is going to do the work.
  2. Agreeing on an action, but without any discussion of a completion date, so the end date is open to interpretation and differing opinions.
  3. Waiting until the completion date to check on the results, or not even checking in at all.
  4. Not holding people accountable for missed commitments after the fact.


It’s important to get ahead of these accountability busters by getting agreement on actions, setting end dates, checking in regularly, and holding people accountable for missed commitments. In setting this standard of accountability, there are actions that leaders can take to enable people to meet high expectations and be held accountable for their work.

Leadership Practices to Help Employees

There are five leadership practices that enable people to meet high expectations.

Enhance and Maintain Employee Self-Esteem

When leaders acknowledge and celebrate the strengths and contributions of their team members, they boost morale and self-confidence. By showing genuine appreciation and respect, leaders help employees feel valued and motivated, which in turn encourages them to perform at their best and take pride in their work. High self-esteem among employees also fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization, reducing turnover rates and promoting a positive workplace culture.

Set Challenging Goals

Setting challenging goals is a powerful way to inspire and drive employees toward excellence. Goals should be ambitious yet attainable, pushing team members out of their comfort zones and encouraging them to stretch their capabilities. When leaders set clear, specific, and measurable goals, they provide a roadmap for success that employees can strive toward. Additionally, leaders should provide the necessary resources and support to help employees achieve these goals while also celebrating milestones and progress along the way.

Create a Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive environment is essential for enabling employees to meet high expectations. Leaders should cultivate a culture of trust, respect, and open communication where team members feel safe to express ideas, ask questions, and take risks. By showing empathy, being approachable, and actively listening to employee concerns, leaders can create a workplace where individuals feel valued and supported, which enhances their ability to perform and innovate.

Catch People Doing Something Right

Recognizing and rewarding positive behavior is a powerful way to reinforce desired actions and boost employee morale. Leaders should make a conscious effort to catch people doing something right and acknowledge it promptly and sincerely. This can be done through verbal praise, written notes of appreciation, or public recognition in meetings or company communications. Positive reinforcement not only motivates the individual being recognized but also sets a standard for others to emulate.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Providing constructive feedback is crucial for continuous improvement and development. Leaders should aim to balance positive feedback with areas for improvement, ensuring that employees understand what they are doing well and where they can grow. Constructive feedback should be delivered in a supportive and respectful manner, with the goal of helping employees develop their skills and achieve their potential.

Tips and Best Practices

Lastly, here is a list of tips and best practices that will help you create more accountability within individuals and teams:

  • Be a role model by holding yourself accountable.
  • Evaluate the level of accountability of your direct reports; identify probable causes and actions for increasing accountability.
  • Enable honest communications about problems without fear of reprisal.
  • Use action plans to document commitments.
  • Coach people to ask themselves three accountability questions.
  • Encourage a “What else can I do to achieve the results that I want?” attitude.
Rick Lepsinger
Rick Lepsinger

Rick Lepsinger, President of OnPoint Consulting, is a virtual team expert with more than 30 years of experience and a proven track record as a human resource consultant and executive. Rick Lepsinger is the president of OnPoint Consulting. He is the co-author of several books on leadership and organizational effectiveness, including Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results and Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance. Rick was on the faculty of GE’s Management Development Course (MDC) for four years and led the program Making GE’s Global Matrix Work.

Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.

Recommended Training from HRDQ-U
Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance

Improve your organization’s success with effective accountability management. Learn how to measure, recognize, and create a culture of accountability at work.

More HRDQ-U Blog Posts
Related Topics
Career development
Career Development
Business coaching webinar
Creativity and innovation skills training
Creativity and Innovation
Webinar customer service
Customer Service
Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance
Decision Making
Diversity and inclusion webinars
Diversity and Inclusion
Managing Accountability: Expecting and Getting Top Performance
PM webinars
Project Management
Log In