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Building a Culture of Accountability to Drive Results

By Tierra Madani, CPHR, HR Consultant, Chemistry Consulting Group

It seems we have all been feeling propelled forward these days as we turn the switch from ‘recovery mode’ to the ON button. As we get back to business, we are facing unique challenges within our working world that need to be mended before we turn our engines on to full speed ahead. 

One of the ways in which we can create a solution around these challenges is by bringing awareness to accountability.


HR & Communication Challenges in Today’s Workplace

The unique challenges we are facing in our workplaces can stem from how we are working; including environments that are hybrid, at the workplace and/or remote. Even before the pandemic, many teams were set up in this way just to a lesser degree for some. HR professionals and people leaders have been working in the background on bridging communication gaps and solving conflict that derive from these mixed workplace settings but adding the pressure that comes from picking up our pace has made it overwhelming. 

Broken links can happen anywhere within our organizations and our teams. Two key HR functions that require special attention right now are employee engagement and the onboarding of new hires. In today’s labour market experiencing nationwide staff shortages, our businesses are struggling to retain and engage top talent. It is critical that we look to address and follow-up on communication challenges such as reading between the lines, miscommunications, and different interpretations from a mix of online vs messaging vs texting vs in-person communication exchanges. 


Accountability as the Solution

Although we know it is literally impossible to be everywhere at once, for some reason there is this feeling of a superpower that remote work gives us where we are confident in our ability to communicate effectively everywhere we need to. Clearly this is one reason communication breaks down and the quality of our work is being negatively affected. Holding each other responsible to do things right and when we need them done by is the foundation of accountability, and therefore an effective solution to the challenges we are continuing to face. 

Let’s use employee onboarding as a challenge where accountability can help. 

Coordinating orientations and onboarding plans are no easy task, especially when done virtually or when the pressure of staff shortages doesn’t allow for much training time at all. Clearly communicating who is accountable to look after your new employee and when the responsibility is passed over to someone else. There is no accountability without clear expectations set, so that should be the priority from the day the employment agreement is signed. Determine the best method of communication to set expectations with your team, whether through a group email, a text message group, or a new Teams conversation. Also don’t leave your new hire in the dark and do your best to prepare them in advance of their first day. 

A little extra communication and time taken to clarify who is playing what role in the process is key to avoiding pitfalls. 


Leading and Supporting Accountability 

HR professionals and people leaders can lead and support accountability, but how and to what degree? 

Building a culture of accountability is a great place to start. Although it is not an easy task, there are several benefits of using accountability as a strategy which makes it worthwhile to take this step back from our fast-paced world to build a new and stronger foundation. By developing and promoting a culture of accountability at your organization, you’ll be improving employee engagement through trust, transparency, communication, teamwork and critical thinking in decision making. 

Use accountability to drive results through ownership, commitment to continuous improvements and resilience. Encourage more frequent performance reviews and/or project status reports throughout the year, instead of only focusing on this annually or semi-annually. Commit time to discussing your employees’ professional and personal development plans and what each of you will be accountable for as you look ahead.