Top Barriers to a More Accountable Culture at Work

Top Barriers to a More Accountable Culture at Work
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Workplace Culture Defined
Before we discuss the importance of creating a more accountable culture at work, let’s start with some definitions.

We define company culture as HOW work gets done as opposed to WHAT gets done. Think of organizational culture as the unique combination of the values, beliefs, and attitudes of your workforce that govern how the business operates and how employees think and behave as they accomplish their work objectives.

Our organizational alignment research found that workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. The right culture, whatever that may be in your unique situation, matters.  Once you assess your organizational culture to see where you stand, we believe that it is a leader’s job to foster a healthy, high performing, and purposeful culture that promotes and sustains business AND people success.

The Role of Leaders in Workplace Culture Creation
Leaders play a significant role in creating their organization’s culture. They establish the standards of behavior, set the tone, model desired behaviors, and make the decisions that drive business outcomes. In good times, they are the champions; in difficult times, they bear the responsibility.

Leaders must do all they can to guide the ship in the right direction.

Four Culture Traps for Leaders to Avoid if They Want to Increase Accountability At Work
We are often called in to work with companies to help define problems, point to solutions, and then implement them. Sometimes the problems are caused by leaders who fall into the following four traps that pose serious barriers to a healthy and accountable workplace culture.

  1. Lack of Clarity
    It is all too common for executives who have spent countless hours in strategy retreats working on company strategy to assume their employees have the same context. Too often employees feel that leaders present the business plan without the background information and rationale for change that would persuade them to commit to the initiative.

    It is imperative that leaders create strategic clarity by simplifying the message, reiterating it frequently, and checking for understanding. Employees need a clear vision of desired outcomes, a deep understanding of and agreement with the goals, and a practical plan for achieving those goals.

    Do you have enough strategic clarity and alignment to create enough performance and behavioral accountability?

  2. Lack of Trust
    While employees must trust their leaders to steer the company in the right direction, a leader’s lack of trust in employee capabilities to achieve business goals leads to micromanaging, a leader’s desire to control every aspect of an activity. This management style of over-supervision is stressful and sabotages productivity. Employees lose motivation and any sense of ownership or pride in their work result.

    Micromanagers are likely to be perfectionists. They overthink situations and spend too little time in moving ahead. The better leadership style is to allow the team to take calculated risks, recover when things go awry, learn from missteps, and focus on results.

    Do you have enough organizational health and psychological team safety to have constructive debates and make tough decisions?

  3. Lack of Transparency
    Transparency in the workplace has been debated among leaders for decades. Some say transparency is essential to fostering a culture of trust.  Others say transparency in the workplace creates unnecessary headaches.

    One thing is certain.  When there is no place to hide and you know others are watching, you are likely to behave the way you should.  Accountability and transparency go hand-in-hand.  Misaligned behaviors can fester and cause decreased engagement, performance, and retention.

    Is your culture transparent enough to create the desired levels of accountability?

  4. Lack of Focus
    Too many leaders are waylaid by the urgent and the human tendency to want to be liked. They give too much energy to immediate tactics and too much importance to the thoughts and opinions of others when they should, instead, focus on the important.  The best leaders are open to listen to others but always keep the end goal and big picture in mind.

    Are you keeping your eye on the ball?

The Bottom Line
A healthy company culture is one of shared accountability. Be the leader whose strategy is clear and agreed-upon, who trusts colleagues and employees to do the job right, who stays focused on business goals, and who creates a more accountable culture.

To learn more about how to build a more accountable culture, download The 3 Levels of a Culture That Your Leaders Must Get Right

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