The Impact of Accountability on Culture and Engagement

Creating a fantastic work culture and increasing employee engagement continue to rank at the top of every business and HR leader’s workplace goals. I want to challenge these leaders to consider personal accountability and its relationship to and impact on culture and engagement. If leaders foster an environment of personal accountability, culture and engagement will naturally improve.


What is accountability?

Accountability is displayed in an employee who clearly understands their goals and how they contribute to the mission and initiatives of the organization and does whatever it takes to get the desired results. It’s not about the time spent on projects, but rather the results generated.


Also, the results are completed to a specific level of satisfaction, not just checked off a list. Determine the level of satisfaction in advance and ensure it is clearly understood. The employee needs to know the expectations of their manager, the organization, and, most importantly, – the patients or clients.


How can leaders foster an environment of personal accountability?


Leaders must be transparent about their expectations for personal accountability and ensure every employee understands what that means and how that looks. Encourage employees to “see it, own it, solve it, and do it.” Here are some tips and ways to get started:


Acknowledge how you impact the culture

This is a great time for leaders to model how to give and get good feedback. By having your employees practice giving you feedback on ways your actions may be affecting the organization’s culture, you are not only learning from their input, but you are developing their skills and gathering insights on your impact of the culture. Acknowledge how you’ve contributed to any problems and consider ways your actions and behaviors can instead improve the culture.


Define how each role impacts your organization

Clearly define the organization’s initiatives and form goals for each role that contribute to those initiatives or the mission of the business. Continually review the employee’s progress toward these goals to bring the focus back to how their role contributes to the bigger picture. If an employee truly understands how their role, in conjunction with other positions, brings the mission of the company to life, they’ll be much more inclined to give 100% to their jobs. When leaders give their employees purpose, higher engagement and satisfaction will naturally follow.



Hire accountable people

When hiring new employees, ensure they possess personal accountability or the potential for it. Past behavior is always the best predictor of future behavior, so ask plenty of questions that draw out past situations. Consider ways the candidate can show their accountability, including their ability to keep promises, consider consequences, take responsibility for mistakes, and make amends for mistakes.


Get managers in the mindset to help

Help your managers transition their thinking from holding others accountable to nurturing an environment where people are taking greater accountability. This will help foster a culture of employees that proactively self-select the appropriate actions needed to get the desired results.


Encourage positive thinking

Help employees seek joy in challenging circumstances instead of always looking at the negative. When individuals complain about current conditions, help them look at the situation differently. Positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to many people, so practice is essential.


Stop the blame game

Your employees should feel empowered to make mistakes and not be afraid to learn from them. Instead of blaming, managers, leaders, and colleagues should discuss ways to improve processes or projects and allow others to contribute for added buy-in.


Allow creative thinking

Leaders must allow employees to think creatively to come up with their own solutions rather than solve problems for them. Learn to ask open-ended questions to prompt problem-solving. When employees provide the answers, they see the value they bring to the organization and will engage in responsibilities with more vigor and energy.


Delegate authority

Once an employee begins to demonstrate accountability, give them some power to make some decisions. For example, when you assign a project with specific expected results, allow the employee to choose the team, vendor, or tools they will use and work with to get the work done. Give them the ownership they need to impact the results directly.



When you foster an environment where employees are encouraged and expected to focus on personal accountability, you are growing a team of engaged contributors. You’ll begin to see a group of more efficient, creative, and independent employees striving to do their best to contribute to the mission, vision, and initiatives of your organization.


If you do not have an HR partner, Tandem HR is happy to help you with this process. Give us a call today at 630-928-0510.

Tandem HR is an IRS Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) providing hundreds of businesses with high-touch and custom HR solutions. We provide payroll, benefits, risk management, employee relations, and much more.