Self-accountability is the willingness or commitment to assume responsibility or be liable for your own actions. Being accountable in the workplace or when working as a group is an excellent quality that helps promote responsibility, reliability, and trust. In this article, we shall discuss things you should know about personal accountability.
What are the Four Self Accountability Steps?
Many times, employees have laid down targets to help them achieve their goals. However, that alone does not guarantee self-accountability. According to The Oz Principle, a New York Times bestselling book which you can purchase from Amazon, personal accountability means the “personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”
To accomplish your set goals, you must begin by committing yourself to everything possible to achieve results. Every individual should adopt the following crucial self-accountability steps.
Be Courageous Enough to See It
During a discussion, Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, asked Gordon Moore, his partner, “If we were kicked out of the company, what do you think the new CEO would do?”
They concluded that the new head would not be emotionally attached to the dwindling memory chip firm and would later abandon it. The two partners decided to switch the company’s operations to target microprocessors.
Their decision to accept the hard reality and steer their business towards a different direction demonstrated to the world that being prepared to “SEE IT” can bear valuable results. However, you first need to master the art of being courageous and wise enough to accept the outcome. Some of the big companies that failed to “SEE IT” and embrace change later faced dire consequences. To remain afloat, company directors should:
- Notice when their performance declines below the line
- Identify and acknowledge the reality
To “OWN IT,” you must play a role in finding and implementing the solution. Virat Kohli, an Indian cricketer and captain of his team scored a century in a single-day match, after which he stepped out.
The team later lost the match, and Virat had all the right to blame his team members for the defeat. However, when a reporter sought to determine lessons the team had learned, he admitted responsibility for the team’s defeat.
Virat said he should have stayed and helped his teammates win the game. Accountable people admit that their behavior can be responsible for specific situations and strive to counter such circumstances regardless of the challenges along the way.
In our example, that Virat took responsibility does not suggest that he should not escape that situation. However, taking responsibility allowed him to strive to conquer the situation in future matches. Owning your situation allows you to beat failure that emanates from being a victim, allowing you to forge ahead and accomplish success in life. Remember:
- Never absolve yourself from a situation
- Own the entire reality and acknowledge mistakes
Become Wise enough to Solve It
The “SOLVE IT” nature and perspective emanate from asking yourself: “what else can I do?” By asking this question repeatedly, you avoid slipping back to the victim phase every time something that may hinder your path to success occurs.
A good example, in this case, would be that of SR Rao, Surat’s former municipal commissioner and a committed civil servant in India. Rao revolutionized Surat, making it the second cleanest city in India in a record 20 years.
Working without any directive or extra resources, Rao changed the trajectory of the whole city of Surat. He took over leadership of the city at a time when it had been stricken by widespread disease.
When Rao sought answers for the city’s filthy condition at the time, many of residents said: “People are bad, citizens are bad, and they throw garbage on the streets. It’s part of the genetic make-up of the population here.” Rao adopted the “SOLVE IT” attitude to change the situation, an act that eliminated malaria from the city in five years. To succeed in this step, you should:
- Take action
- Be committed to taking the lead in problem-solving
- Adopt a different thinking style
- Be persistent
Practice the Art of Doing It
Personal accountability means taking complete responsibility to “DO IT” and accomplish results. Failing to “DO IT” bars you from enjoying the benefits of adequate accountability, that is, beating your situation and accomplishing your desired results. In his farewell speech, the former Nokia CEO said: “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost.” Failure to embrace change when the entire world was evolving triggered their loss. What should companies do to prevent such situations?
- Empower your group to acknowledge and take risks is critical
- Embrace your liability to achieve results
How to Maintain a Self-Accountability Mindset
When employees encounter bottlenecks in their pursuit of results, they could feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Often, these challenges make it easy to delegate personal accountability. Instead of being self-accountable, employees could make excuses, point fingers, or lose interest. Such attitudes and behavior suggest that the employees are turning down accountability and frustrating results. To be constantly accountable, employees should strive to embrace and own challenges that may arise, convert those problems into growth opportunities, and work aggressively towards finding solutions.
Once employees keep a tab of their actions and take their colleagues along, the entire team will maintain the appropriate behaviors, competencies, and attitudes to push for critical results while enhancing its performance.
What are the Benefits of Self Accountability?
While taking personal accountability can be a challenge, it comes with various advantages, as shown below.
- Personal accountability allows you to develop healthy relationships with your colleagues at work, family, and friends. According to studies, children whose parents encouraged them to be accountable for their actions interacted better socially.
- Being self-accountable means you are conscientious enough to adopt the comment cancel reply approach. Self-accountability develops trust among organizations and teams because people understand they can rely upon one another.
- Being self-accountable increases your chances of getting promoted. When you demonstrate your dependability, you stand out as an individual with excellent leadership skills and potential.
- With personal accountability, you can save money and time. A person who can take care of his actions can speak up and seek solutions when problems arise. Doing so eliminates delays, stops the situation from worsening, and cuts down costs.
How to Improve Your Self-Accountability
People are not born with personal accountability. Instead, they acquire the trait as they learn and experience life. Here are tips to help you improve your self-accountability.
· Create Priority and Weekly Lists
Instead of having a comprehensive to-do list, create a daily and weekly list to ease task execution. Some people create an annual to-do list at the beginning of a new year. A priority list allows you to take care of the areas that will help you succeed during the day or week. Further, the priority list allows you to identify where you need to invest more time to achieve your goals.
Identify your crucial activities and mark them on the calendar in advance. Review your priority list every weekend or at the beginning of a new week and reflect on your achievements. Determine whether you achieved all your goals. If you did not, find out why and lay down strategies to help you achieve subsequent goals.
· Have an Accountability Partner
An accountability partner keeps track of your performance. Consider giving them your to-do list and holding meetings weekly to review your progress together. Sharing your priorities with a trusted partner is one of the most effective ways of remaining accountable. Remember, many people would be ashamed to admit that they did not live up to their promises. An accountability partner can be a colleague, a family member, or a friend ready to check in with your progress every week.
Choose a reliable person who can push you to achieve your goals. Finding excuses for not executing your tasks is easy, but your accountability partner can give you time management tips, ask the right questions, and keep you focused and on track. Writing down your to-do list, notifying your accountability partner about it, and reviewing your LinkedIn achievements help you work harder to accomplish more goals.
· Commit Yourself in Writing
Signing a commitment contract is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating seriousness and enhancing accountability. A commitment contract is an agreement that you sign with yourself, defining what you want to do and when you plan to complete it.
How to Demonstrate Self-Accountability
Self-accountability is a skill you should develop. Leverage the following practices to demonstrate self-accountability for your decisions, actions, and behaviors.
· Know Your Task
Having a clear understanding of your responsibilities and long-term goals makes it easy to take accountability. If you do not understand your tasks well, it is best to discuss the matter with your manager and allow them to provide a clear outline of what is expected from you.
If you work together as a team, make sure members understand their duties and responsibilities clearly. They should also know their deliverables and deadlines. The entire team should take full ownership of the task to facilitate easy identification and solving of problems.
· Be Sincere with Yourself and Others
Be sincere with your colleagues at work, family, managers, and friends. When you are honest, people will rely upon your factual evaluation, opinions, and advice to get the work done. Being honest can be difficult, primarily when a mistake occurs. However, doing so boosts your integrity, personal development and eliminates future problems.
Remember, overlooking a problem or blaming others only worsens the problem. Instead of making excuses, focus on executing your role appropriately and how you can contribute to solving problems. Again, seek help whenever necessary to fast track the completion of a task. If you try to get it done alone, you may end up missing deadlines.
· Learn the Art of Apologizing
When you notice that you have messed up during the execution of your tasks, remember to apologize. After the apology, strive to do everything possible to correct your mistakes and accelerate completion of the task. Doing so enables everybody to collaborate in finding an effective solution to the problem before proceeding to the next task.
Consider delegating tasks or seeking assistance from people who have the capacity and resources to speed up completion. Remember, an apology may be considered as confirmation of liability.
Understand your situation before apologizing and determine the effects of such an action on your organization. If liability could be at stake, consider talking to your lawyer or manager about it. Only accept liability if it does not entangle your business based on the issue at hand.
· Acquire Time Management Skills
Time management is one of the most valuable features of self-accountability. When you manage your projects and time productively, you will finish your work on time. What’s more, your colleagues will be happy to depend on you to execute critical tasks. Avoid procrastination as much as possible. Beware of the following factors that may trigger procrastination:
- Lack of resources to execute and finish your tasks
- Refraining from confrontation due to some problems
- Lack of motivation to execute a task
Procrastinating makes you unreliable to your colleagues.
· Understand Your Limits
Do you struggle to say no and end up underperforming on some tasks due to a lack of resources or sufficient time to complete them? To accept only the number of tasks you can manage comfortably, you will need to:
- Adopt mindfulness in your program
- Discuss your tasks with your manager or supervisor so that they can assist you in prioritizing them. Prioritizing is one of the effective ways of guarding your mental health.
- Establish whether you have the resources, empowerment skills, and time to beat deadlines
Embrace Change to Boost Self Accountability
Taking personal accountability for your actions, behavior, and decisions allows you to evaluate areas you need to improve. Request feedback to understand the various ways in which you could have executed your tasks. Accept constructive criticism and take in the lessons. Sometimes you may want to have an action plan to help you manage situations in the future. A plan helps you know how to handle tasks and counter challenges in the future.
· Be Result-Oriented
Whether you are accountable to yourself or others, being result-oriented can be ideal. Self-accountability involves being responsible and executing tasks. However, you need to understand your desired results and formulate a plan to help you get there. Accountable people do what they say and also strive to accomplish their desired results.
· Determine what you are Accountable for and to whom you are Accountable
To achieve self-accountability, you need to determine what you are accountable for and to whom you are accountable. You will only be liable if you understand what you are signing for. In this case, you must understand the expected results and the practices you have laid down to help you achieve them.
The practices are part of your plan, but they involve more flexible things like managing issues as they arise instead of procrastinating, holding meetings regularly with your team, and asking for assistance whenever necessary.
Regardless of your program and whether it drifts or not, your self-accountable practices will come in handy to help you accomplish your desired results. Being unaware of what is expected of you triggers failure, confusion, and a lack of accountability.
Knowing to whom you are accountable is critical. For example, assuming you want to clean your home and create a healthy environment, you could be accountable to your family or yourself. If you are attempting to achieve goals at your workplace, you are accountable to your team, self, and managers.
Understanding to whom you are accountable helps everyone collaborate, support, and hold one another liable, and improves one another’s critical and problem-solving skills. Further, knowing to whom you are accountable helps you enhance momentum and get motivated since you do not want to disappoint your family or colleagues. Accomplishing set professional goals is easier when working together as a team than when working alone.
How Can Leaders Demonstrate Self Accountability?
Being a self-accountable leader can be a difficult task. However, it is necessary to be a change agent and add value to your firm and the people in your team. Here are various skills that leaders need to facilitate self-accountability.
· Set Defined Objectives and Targets
Having defined goals and targets is the perfect recipe for confusing and frustrating your team. Being self-accountable if you do not know what you should be accountable for is impossible. To develop a successful team, you should define your objectives and targets.
Defined objectives are quantitative, significant, and they also give your team a clear vision. While the SMART goal concept is not new, it is still valuable. Ensure your team has Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. If they are not, you may want to go back and re-strategize.
· Be Futuristic
Always determine where you want your path to lead and define strategies to help you reach there. Identify the particular steps you require to move from one point to the other and highlight potential challenges. Include strategies you can adopt to avoid them.
Accountable leaders should lay down proper strategies to help them, and their teams complete their tasks, accomplish their goals, and move to the next level. An accountable leader acquires challenging visions and converts them into possibilities.
They do so by dividing large tasks into small but manageable ones before classifying the smaller tasks chronologically. They then allocate checkpoints and define deliverables and hold everybody involved accountable for the tasks. Such leaders often review their progress and celebrate wins as they occur.
· Seek Assistance when Necessary
Accountable leaders are persistent in creating a defined future situation, but obstacles often develop along the way. Shifts in the company or market create new bottlenecks and likely pressure. Some leaders continue pushing through regardless of the challenges they encounter, which is wrong.
Influential and self-accountable leaders escape that trap by seeking help. Some leaders are controlled by pride which stops them from seeking assistance. However, accountable leaders are cautious enough to delegate tasks and ask for help whenever necessary instead of waiting for the situation to escalate.
Such leaders put the team’s objectives and vision before their individual needs. Seeking assistance does not make you less accountable. Instead, it demonstrates to your team that you are committed to achieving the set goals.
· Offer Practical and Factual Feedback
Accountable leaders allow their team members to be accountable. One of the most effective ways to do so is to determine their performance. Everybody wants honest reviews, and establishing whether their duties are hitting the target or dropping below expectations is crucial.
Helpful feedback propels your team to the next level by granting them robust strategies to facilitate improvement. Instead of waiting for a conclusive performance review, offer practical feedback on the go.
Reviewing the project should be a constant process that enables your team to determine the right time to shift strategies or adopt new techniques. An accountable leader offers practical feedback while empowering the entire team and giving them a chance to be self-accountable.
· Enhancing Self Accountability in the Workplace
Often, supervisors and managers allow employees to evade personal accountability to avoid confrontation. However, a lack of self-accountability should be unacceptable in the workplace. Remember, many employees know when they are underperforming.
A salesperson who does not meet his sales target needs encouragement to improve, without which he may feel discouraged, ignored, and devalued. Such an employee may end up quitting the company.
Lack of accountability could communicate to other employees that managers condone substandard results. In the end, the team may start frowning at the under-performing employee and their manager because they have to work harder to compensate for their shortcomings.
Failure to address the incompetent employee may be considered a weakness or favoritism, which may demotivate other team members. An accountable leader can leverage the following tips to tweak this trend.
· Hold the Hard Discussions
Often, holding employees accountable may appear aggressive, which does not have to be the case. You want to address performance instead of the person. Believe that many employees are focused on working well and are not underperforming on purpose.
For example, you may ask employee A: “I realized that certain plans did not go according to plan. What do you think was amiss?” across the conversation, try to understand why the employee took some actions or how they executed some tasks.
For example, your conversation can be something like, “could you describe the procedure you adopted in this task?” “What challenges did you experience along the way?” “Do you need my input during your next assignment?”
Many employees may not know the impact of their habits on their team members and will need guidance to toe the line. Some other common reasons for underperformance can be:
- Personal matters getting in the way of work
- Clashing priorities
- Lack of sufficient training
- Wrong interpretation of instructions
- Technical challenges
Address Poor Performance Hastily
Deal with employees directly and as hastily as possible. Remember, you have to manage the problem to see change. Further, you want to avoid a situation where your frustration reaches a breaking end or the employees’ non-performance escalates.
Determine the reasons behind the underperformance and devise a strategy to ensure your leadership style doubles the situation at hand. For instance, experienced employees may be handling too many tasks while new employees may need extra training. A thorough employee may benefit from some coaching while their lazy counterparts could operate better with considerable authority.
Still, you should define your expectations from the employee in terms of practices and actions. Consider offering guidance to help them understand how to actualize your goals. When dealing with an overly incompetent employee, consider adopting written instructions and goals to help you maintain accountability among yourselves.
Managers and supervisors should determine what employees need to boost performance. Providing the right tools prevents employees from making excuses for underperformance.
· Be Considerate of Employee’s Feelings
As a manager or supervisor, you need to be kind enough to determine the leading cause of a problem and chat a collective way forward. For example, let’s assume an employee comes to work late every day. After probing her, you realize that she drops her children at school before going to her workplace.
Previously, she did not struggle with reporting at 9:00, but her current position requires her to report earlier. In this case, consider explaining why everybody should report earlier in her new position before assisting her in handling her problem.
The employee can either change her program or find someone to help with dropping the children. You could also allow her to work a flexible program depending on her position and the company procedures. During your discussion, strive to maintain the worker’s self-esteem by sympathizing with their situation without compromising the organization’s needs.
· Make a Follow-Up
At the end of each conversation, write down notes. You do not have to report every detail to the human resource manager, but forwarding an email to the employee and yourself helps highlight the problem you discussed, the solutions you defined, and expectations for future practices. Such records help clarify the conversation for the parties involved while giving you a reference point should a response be required.
How to Accomplish Self Accountability Naturally
With personal accountability, you can be liable for your actions without depending on incentives or deadlines to get tasks done. You execute your tasks automatically because you are pushed by passion and the desire to succeed. You rely upon self-motivation to achieve your goals in life. Leverage these tips to achieve self-accountability naturally.
· Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
What is the connection between physical and mental health and professional or personal goals? Being mentally and physically stable allows you to be energetic and focused on achieving your goals.
Physical and mental instability can hinder intrinsic motivation, productivity, and the ability to operate optimally. Poor physical health causes pain while preventing you from focusing on goal achievement. Sleep deprivation and fatigue may deny you the energy you need to complete your tasks. Taking care of your general health to boost self-accountability is critical.
· Set Time Aside for Planning
Goals do not manifest without proper planning. Being organized is a critical part of ensuring that you are on the right track and working towards achieving your goals. You can do so by conducting check-ins regularly. Create worksheets to enable you review your goals and determine the amount of effort you need to invest to reach your set goals.
· Be Resilient and Flexible
After setting time-oriented objectives:
- Do not expect short-term results. When your goals become unachievable, you risk failure.
- Create a reasonable deadline but include additional time to cater to any eventualities.
- Incorporate freedom and flexibility in your schedule and take a break, especially when you feel overwhelmed.
Taking some time off allows you to rest, recharge, and return feeling rejuvenated and strong enough to chase your goals.
· Highlight Your Strengths and Work on Your Weaknesses
No one can be talented in everything. All of us have varying abilities in specific areas and are weak in others. For instance, some of us are talented writers but struggle with having a conversation.
On the other hand, some people can speak fluently and courageously in front of the masses, while others have difficulties writing a clear project plan. Good managers should develop their employees and encourage them to acquire new skills. Focus on highlighting your strengths while improving your weaknesses.
Focus on One Task at a Time to Develop Self Accountability
One of the standard requirements in job postings today is the ability to multitask. In today’s fast-paced world, multitasking is a common practice among many people. However, studies show that multitasking is one of the poor time management practices that individuals should avoid.
Focusing on one task at a time until completion is more manageable. Even then, working on one job at a time can be challenging. The more you focus on completing one task, the sooner you will complete it regardless of distractions.
- Self-accountability is a critical part of accomplishing your goals.
- You will need an accountability partner to keep you on track and ensure you accomplish your goals accordingly.
- Focusing on your strengths and working on your weaknesses helps you develop personal accountability.
- Managers and supervisors should empathize with an employee’s situation and motivate them to achieve set goals.
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- Working together as a team enhanced accountability, but it also accelerates the achievement of goals and enhances productivity.