Mar 15, 2017 5:12:51 AM

Accountability in the Workplace – What it Means and How to Get It

Accountability. We all want others to show it but may not always understand how to engage in it ourselves. It has been shown to be a prime factor in creating an environment of trust and well being among peers.

Many think that merely setting a good example is the key to unlocking office-wide accountability. However, a stronger success rate comes from upper management clearly outlining responsibilities and then making sure to keep tabs on the outcome of any given project.

In a stellar article, The Harvard Business Review outlines how accountability functions best. The basic idea is that each project demands a certain personality to manage it. HBR delineates three distinct roles that exist: the Issue Owner, the Team Coordinator and the Tie Breaker. Management identifies the role necessary for a specific project and then must assign that role to a member of the team.

The Issue Owner: In this situation, only one person is responsible for the outcome of the project. They have complete control over the issue and can decide how to implement it, utilizing the assets they are given. They are a leader of sorts; with control over the process as well the outcome.

The Team Coordinator: Functioning from an operational standpoint, the team coordinator facilitates an entire team in the decision making process. They have less control over the outcome than the Issue Owner, but can delegate and create an environment where the team operates optimally. In this situation, ultimately the team itself comes to a consensus about the final outcome. The Team Coordinator has an equal amount of authority as everyone else working on the project.

The Tie Breaker: This is the middle point between the previous two roles. The Tie-breaker is the one who pushes the project forward and has the power to make difficult decisions if the team can’t find a commonality. They operate from an organizational standpoint but can also take a leadership role when the situation demands it.

The next time you delegate a project, think very clearly about what kind of responsibilities it entails. If everyone on the team knows where their responsibility lies, then accountability is easy to foster. From there, when expectations are set, staff can feel confident moving forward in a manner that best suits the ultimate objective.


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