Management is not an easy task. Each management style has its own pros and cons, but each employee also has their own preferred way of being managed. Often this can create issues in communication when managing employees and having accountability in the workplace. There is a little known secret to overcoming this roadblock - separating accountability and responsibility. While the terms may seem too similar to differentiate, understanding the difference can help your business improve and grow with excellent communication between management and employees.
The Difference Between Being Accountable and Being Responsible
The word responsibility usually gets lumped in with many other definitions, muddling what it means to truly be responsible. When it comes to your employees, responsibility refers to the duties they are obligated to carry out in the course of a shift. Yet many managers assign that word for everything that happens while an employee is on the clock.
This is where the world accountability comes into play. When you are encouraging your employees to own up to their mistakes and successes, that is accountability. This is an important concept to differentiate from responsibility. Being accountable, stepping up when an error occurs and things are difficult, is not easy but is incredibly important when establishing your communication and workflow. This does not only apply to employees, but to yourself as a manager as well.
Taking Ownership and Empowering Employees
With this understanding about accountability in the workplace, you can set up your organization’s structure to empower your employees. This should start with leading by example. When you make a mistake or when something you asked for doesn’t turn out correctly, make a point to own up to your mistakes in front of your employees. Not only should you hold yourself accountable, but you should demonstrate how you plan to correct this problem from occurring again in the future.
As you demonstrate this behavior, empower your employees to begin holding themselves accountable. This can be rocky at first as employees are worried about consequences of admitting they made a mistake. Yet you should use the notion of accountability to encourage your employees to be proud of their achievements and own them. Empowering employees towards accountability will allow your organization to be more positive and uplifting as well as correct mistakes quickly with minimal repetition.
The Key: Communication
In order to reap the benefits of holding employees accountable instead of responsible, you need to clearly communicate your goals with employees. Leading by example, training to reinforce accountability, and rewarding strives towards taking ownership are all communication steps that should be repeated.
Likewise, it is important to have a conversation about what an employee is taking ownership of when he or she takes accountability. The reason why this is important is to empower that employee to always take accountability in the workplace. If they feel worried or afraid or embarrassed to own up to their actions, good or bad, they will not want to do it. The first conversation you have with an employee practicing accountability should be supportive and strategic. Work through the situation and create a plan that focuses on empowerment instead of tearing down. Communication like this is the key to build your employees into leaders who strive for excellence in their work.