Happy July! Do you remember when you were younger and your
parents told you to eat your vegetables? Maybe you liked to eat them, but you
probably didn’t like them all. You didn’t want to eat them. Perhaps your
parents said, “If you don’t eat your vegetables, then you don’t get dessert.”
In the end, you probably ate them, either for a reward or punishment. When you
grew up though, you final understood and appreciated how important it was to
eat healthy, so now you eat your vegetables because you know you need to.
You’ve taken ownership of your health and have become accountable.
This month, I want to talk about creating a work environment that encourages accountability and responsibility. This type of atmosphere is when employees own their job responsibilities and are willing to answer for
the results of their behaviors and actions. They hold themselves accountable to
meet certain performance expectations. Why is this important? Well, in order
for a business to grow, it needs to grow beyond the strengths and capabilities
of the owner or leader and transition to a collaborative work environment.
Often, leaders prevent employees from taking ownership of
their work; they lead instead through directive
. A wise friend once told me that directive communication can
get things done, but it creates a culture that prevents employees from owning
their roles. Instead of belonging to an environment in which all team members
can contribute their effort and creativity, the whole company relies on the
vision and leadership of one person. Instead, an accountable work environment is
collaborative, innovative, and stimulating.
So what can you do if you want to create a more responsible, collaborative work environment? Here are a few basic moves that leaders can make:
Always do
what you say you will do.
Keep your commitments. If you need to break a
commitment, communicate that quickly.
responsibility for your outcomes.
This includes both your mistakes and your
honestly and openly.
Address issues that arise, and provide honest feedback
– positive and negative – to your team.
space for growth.
When employees identify a problem, allow them to work
through the process of discovering a solution rather than simply telling them
what to do. 

Once you are modeling this culture of responsibility it is
important to set and communicate clear expectations; provide time, training,
tools and resources to succeed; empower; provide recognition and feedback; and
take action when individuals and teams do not meet expectations. Employees want
to contribute and to succeed, but they also do not want to waste their own time
and energy if they sense that it is unwanted or not received well. If you
enable them to see that they are active members of the team, then the employees
and the whole company benefit.