Can You Develop Employee Responsibility?
26 July 2018

Responsibility at work – employee accountability

Change is normal and the pace has increased dramatically in recent years. The workplace is no exception. 20 years ago employees were expected to take and act on orders without question. But in today’s more engaged workplace, employees don’t want to just receive. They want to know what’s happening, to be part of the decision making process and to be more involved. What can you do to involve your team, encourage them to take responsibility in the workplace?

  • The starting point is to help your team understand what you want. What is your vision of excellence? Many people don't know what "excellence" means and tend to think that good enough is good enough. Share your vision of excellence that goes beyond competence, or create such a vision together.
    Don’t tolerate the “good enough”. Expect excellence from your people. Project your expectation and give your team room to deliver.
    Don’t say something like: “we are all about quality” and then change the goal posts and allow sub-standard work to go out when it suits you. If you take responsibility for excellence, the people around you will also take responsibility and practice excellence. Excellence is something that effective entrepreneurs, leaders and managers take seriously. Lead by example.
  • When you want people to take responsibility for excellence, get a commitment from others that they can do it and will do it. To get that kind of commitment, ask: To what degree are you committed to excellence on this project? And what will it take to get you 100% on board? After all, there comes a time when you need to move from deliberation to decision and from consideration to commitment.
  • Recognise and reward those who take responsibility. When people take responsibility for excellence, they usually do it for a reason. Maybe the work makes them feel good, helps them master a skill, or move ahead in their career. One of the main reasons people take responsibility is because they want to receive recognition and positive feedback. So give it to them. Praise excellent performance.
  • When team members make mistakes, remember mistakes = learning. Use language to encourage responsibility. Don’t talk to someone about his “weaknesses.” That sounds too much like a set of permanent character flaws. When you're correcting less-than-excellent performance, talk about the person's areas for development. That way you're describing a process they'll take responsibility for addressing. And that puts them back on the road to excellence.
  • Identify the process for taking responsibility. For example, if a colleague had an unusually good sales one month, recognise it and find out what happened to get the results. By asking questions like this, you can help your team member understand how the process of responsibility taking led to significant results.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.