Accountability is a major buzzword in organizations. We want people to be accountable. We want teams and organizations to be accountable. But more than anything, we want to hold people accountable.
As much as we appear to cherish accountability, many of us have only a murky idea as to what accountability is. Accountability often becomes synonymous with blame in our workplaces. This is particularly apparent when we talk about wanting to “hold” people accountable. It’s about finding someone at fault or getting someone to admit fault when something goes wrong. But that’s not what accountability is.
Accountability, at its essence, is about caring. Caring about our one another, our goals, and ourselves. Holding ourselves accountable is caring about how our actions and behaviour affects others and caring about how we go through the world and live our lives. It’s caring about how we want we want to be seen. If we want to do the best for our team – believe in the purpose, values, goals – then we will want to learn from our mistakes, share them so others can learn from them and do better next time. We will go out of our way to make sure we set expectations and goals we can reach so we don’t let others down.
Asking others to be accountable is caring enough about them to want them to grow, improve and reach their full potential. If you can’t truthfully say you care about someone else, don’t try to hold them “accountable”. Step back and examine your motives. Accountability isn’t about pointing fingers and living in the past, it’s about looking to the future and how we can improve ourselves.
A TEAM HUMAN CONVERSATION
Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.
Describe an instance when you showed accountability – how did it make you feel?
What are some key differences between blame and accountability?
What factors can make it difficult to embrace accountability as individuals and as a team?