How To Hold Employees Accountable (With Tips for Success)

John* was doing his best to be calm, but his frustration was palpable. Jeanine was explaining that there was little chance her group was going to make the numbers for this quarter. “Honestly?” she said. “The numbers weren’t realistic to begin with. It was really unlikely that we were going to make them.”

And it’s necessary at all levels of the hierarchy. Executives high on the org chart can’t really be accountable unless the people who report to them also follow through on their commitments. This a struggle, of course. I have seen leaders direct, question, and plead. I have seen them yell, act passive-aggressively, and throw up their hands in frustration — all in the service of “holding people accountable.”

When I explained all of this to John, it was easy for him to identify the gaps in his communication with Jeanine. His expectations were clear, but her capability was lacking, which they had never addressed. Once they’d spoken about the gap, he could support her development with coaching while also reviewing her milestones more frequently. That gave him the data he needed to give her clear and timely feedback.

Here are 11 tips for you on how to hold employees accountable in your workplace.
  1. Leaders should first hold themselves accountable. …
  2. Set clear expectations. …
  3. Don’t Solve — Empathize. …
  4. Provide the necessary resources. …
  5. Address poor performance ASAP. …
  6. Set SMART goals. …
  7. Provide data. …
  8. Consistent, ongoing feedback.

How Do I Hold My Employees Accountable? | The Workplace Inside & Out

How to hold employees accountable

Follow these steps to hold your team members accountable:

1. Set clear goals

Setting clear goals and expectations is an essential part of holding your team members accountable. Its even better to put each team members responsibilities in writing so that you can refer to them at a later time. Be open to questions from your team members to ensure they understand your directions. Regularly remind them of your expectations and make it clear when any of them change.

2. Make mistakes a learning experience

When an employee makes a mistake, use this as a chance to coach them through their error. Rather than finding a solution for them, make them go through the problem-solving process. This can help your team members develop these essential skills while also learning how to do a task the right way.

3. Give regular feedback

Giving your team members feedback can help them figure out if they are meeting your expectations. Consider holding one-on-one performance reviews to discuss each employees progress in detail. Explain what strengths of theirs you appreciate and what skills they could improve. Help them set goals moving forward using the SMART method. This means that each of their goals is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Using this framework can help your team members create high-quality goals that they are more likely to reach.

4. Measure progress

Create a system to measure the progress of your team. This may include weekly progress reports, peer reviews or daily check-ins. Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) can also help you measure what quantifiable results your team members are producing. Setting actual numbers they need to meet can give you a more tangible idea of their progress.

5. Mean what you say

Whenever you say something to your team members, be consistent with it. Whether its a promise you make or expectations you set, make sure you are following through on what you say. Along with being a good role model, consistency helps your team members know what to expect from you. For instance, when creating consequences for team members failing to meet their quotas, you need to uphold them to ensure your team members take you seriously.

6. Work with other team leaders

Consider meeting with other managers to discuss your plan for holding employees accountable. This way, you can work together to create a streamlined process that is the same across the company. Add your policies to the employee handbook so every new employee knows their expectations from the first day. Consider meeting annually to review and revise your policies as a team to ensure theyre still meeting your companys needs.

7. Implement a strong onboarding process

A good way to hold employees accountable is by setting clear expectations on their first day of work. Having helpful training sessions and materials for new employees to review can help them learn what they are supposed to do. Before they even start, send them information about things like your companys dress code, working hours, parking policies, disclosure agreements and anything else they might need to know on their first day.

Why is it important to hold employees accountable?

Holding employees accountable is an important part of meeting your departments goals. When everyone is aware of their expectations and responsibilities, they can produce better, more consistent work. Some employees need more supervision than others, making it important for you to have strategies to monitor their work. When your team members know youre tracking their goals and task completion, they may be more likely to stay focused on their work and get more done. Holding employees accountable also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, which is a transferrable skill for virtually any role.

Tips for holding employees accountable

Holding your team members is an ongoing process, requiring you to manage their work on a regular basis. These tips can help you set clear expectations for your team:


How do you ensure employees are accountable?

How to make accountability a core part of your culture and a core value of your team
  1. Lead by example and hold yourself accountable first. …
  2. Set team goals. …
  3. Work on your feedback skills. …
  4. Create a culture of two-way feedback.

How do you hold employees accountable without micromanaging them?

4 Steps To Accountability
  • Mustering the Courage to SEE IT: …
  • Finding the Heart to OWN IT: …
  • Obtaining the wisdom to SOLVE IT: …
  • Exercising the means to DO IT:

How do I hold my team accountable?

Establish Clear Commitments And Responsibilities

They need to understand the objectives of the project, team, department or company and how their individual work contributes to that. Be specific. Conduct meetings to get everyone on the same page and remind team members of their responsibilities.

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