Creating a Culture of Accountability

A lack of accountability in the workplace can spell doom for companies, especially those in high growth and working on employee retention and engagement..

A good ownership culture definition or culture of accountability definition is being able to trust your employees to bring their best work to the table, so that promoting accountability and ownership in the workplace is essential and engrained in day-to-day work life. There are many ways to encourage accountability in the workplace, starting from when new hires first join the team.

It’s never too late to start creating a culture of empowerment and accountability, allowing everyone to begin fresh and do better. All it takes is a little changes in your communication that can explain why teams need trust and accountability and prove the case for why and how everyone will benefit!

How to Create a Culture of Accountability in the Workplace?

Below are some of accountability in the workplace examples that constitute the most effective ways of getting employees to take ownership and promote your company’s definition of accountability in the workplace.

Below are 4 questions and exercises to do with teams and departments as you determine how to establish accountability for employees in your workplace:

  1. How to be accountable and demonstrate it at work (or in a given role or task)?
  2. How to take ownership of your work?
  3. How to instill a culture of accountability?
  4. How do responsibility and accountability impact role’s?

After getting together as a team to determine and define accountability and success at your organization, you work has only started. Next, these 3 simple steps will ensure all of your hard work is carried out and lived out through your employees.

Step 1 – Set Clear and Attainable Expectations

Before you present your expectations of accountability responsibility ownership to your employees, it’s important to really narrow down what you expect from them and why. It is also helpful to present examples of ownership in the workplace that are like a FAQ for your current accountability standards and ultimate goals.

Since these expectations of accountability are or will become standards, you should involve many stakeholders in the process of perfecting and formalizing your taking ownership definition. When your employees are clear on company’s objectives and the standards they are being held accountable to, it reduces stress by creating a direct pathway to success.

For example, when providing context to taking personal responsibility at work & clear examples, setting a goal to be accountable, such as “increase sales from last year” might be too broad an ownership competency example. Better taking personal responsibility at work examples for your sales department might sound like:

“Increase sales by 3 x through the creation of new distributor relationships.”


“Increase sales by 2x on the East Coast by gaining significant market share on competitor who was beaten to market with our next gen software.”

Be specific and tangible with goals set across the organization so that your employees can do their best to meet company goals: providing a range of target numbers, for example, is an excellent way to set realistic goals for employees to be accountable for.

Another way to increase empowerment and accountability of employees is to have a clear accountability competency definition for how fast work must be completed and the time constraints employees are under. Doing thorough research will help create timeline expectations that are both achievable and challenging.

While you don’t want to discourage your employees with huge, lofty goals that are out of synch with reality, your employees should be challenged so that they will drive company performance and be proud of their achievements. By setting clear and attainable expectations, you will promote a sense of ownership in employees and help them become more self-motivated with clear examples of accountability to refer back to along their journey to success.

Step 1 – Build Accountability Into Day 1 for New Hires

Your employees are your company, and you should always communicate your definition of ownership in the workplace from the start.

You must discuss the relationship between freedom and accountability at work from day 1, so employees can become self directed and autonomous more quickly. If you’re wondering how to increase accountability in the workplace, a tried and true way to start is at the beginning of each new hire’s employment.

To hire employees who are a good fit for the job, look into where they are coming from! Notice what past employers have to say about your new hire in relation to your company’s employee accountability definition.

During the hiring process, make it clear to newcomers how to take ownership at work by showing them accountability examples in business that are relevant to their work. When expressing how employees will be held to company standards and should be taking accountability at work, take into account how they respond to these standards and what kind of questions they ask about them. By observing new hire questions, you can address knowledge gaps to ensure that they are absolutely clear on your standards for employee accountability in the workplace.

Hiring can be a long and costly process; so focus on accountability in the hiring process to make hires who will perform at a high level and be retained long term.

Step 3 – Address the Elephant(s) in the Room

If you want to learn how to teach initiative to employees and create a culture of accountability and responsibility in the workplace, you need to create an environment where the elephants in the room are addressed and worked with, not ignored.

Your employees are not always going to be perfect, and part of how to teach accountability is navigating when employees do not live up to expectations and reinforcing pictures of accountability in the workplace. In order to maintain company accountability standards, it’s a good idea to also have criteria for coaching your employees when they slip up and to provide examples of being accountable in the workplace and what success looks like.

Although correcting your team can be awkward or unpleasant, it’s an important part of freedom and accountability at work. It’s important not to let behavior that violates company policy to become habitual. The goal should never be to berate or embarrass the employee you think needs to be coached: the goal you should be impressing on them is “more effectively taking ownership of your job” and being adept and listing out why Offer your employees regular private reviews, short meetings where you review their job performance and figure out how to help them live up to your ownership competency definition for their job duties.

If you feel that multiple employees are unclear on what is expected of them, call a team meeting where members can better learn your employee accountability policy, learn what does taking initiative at work mean and voice concerns that you may not be aware of. A team meeting will take pressure off of any specific employee and will build a sense of unity.

Take the time to go over expectations and examples of ownership at work to make sure your employees’ ideas and questions are addressed: that’s how to create a culture of accountability in short, through ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Your team will respect you if you respect them, and this respect should be visible in frequent job accountability examples demonstrated by leaders. Mentoring your employees in a way that is professional, respectful and effective will let them know they play an important part in your company, which will lead them to feel a more solid sense of ownership at work.

Step 4 – Ensure Accountability is Applied Equally at All Levels

Learning how to teach accountability requires that accountability is applied equally at all levels of the company.

Team meetings represent equal application of accountability and provide an opportunity to define accountability in the workplace. Whether an employee has been with the company for a few weeks or for ten years, they should be held equally to performance and behavior expectations. Whether an instance of someone being held to standards is an accountability for performance example or an example of actions having consequences, building a culture of accountability requires employees to see your principles in action through examples of being accountable.

Holding all employees accountable to the same standards regardless of experience, talent or seniority ensures everyone is contributing positively to your company and doing their fair share of work. It is essential to explain accountability when working with others, just as it is essential for everyone to see the results of equal accountability being applied,

Step 5 – Emphasize the Positives of a Culture of Accountability

Creating a culture of accountability is a positive thing, and means everyone can feel autonomous, safe and happy at work. By emphasizing the positives of accountability instead of the punitive measures for not being accountable, this culture shift becomes exciting instead of scary. This is key to creating a culture of accountability in workplace.

Emphasizing the need for employees taking accountability in the workplace should always be done with positive connotations. When discussing this culture shift with your employees, explain clearly how an employee ownership culture is a positive thing that will promote rewarding experiences and lead to more employees taking responsibility at work. When your team is working hard and achieving the results, they feel a sense of pride and ownership that will only promote more success.

When your team members take on greater responsibility and organization in the workplace, it promotes a safer, more comfortable and lucrative workspace and demonstrates a positive example of taking ownership at work.

Final Thoughts: Creating a Thoughtful and Accountable Company Culture

Creating accountability in the workplace means creating a culture where everyone is assuming responsibility at work. Achieving this result depends heavily on good communication: if your team is on the same page then a sense of unity will make everyone more comfortable on the job. Truly, accountability is the key to driving a high performance culture.

When expectations are fair and obvious, and employees know how to show accountability at work, they will want to do their best! If you liked our employee accountability examples, you should check out the following articles on the Lever Blog:

4 Mistakes that Hurt the Candidate Experience

The Cost of Not Having a Modern Hiring Practice