Accountability in the Workplace

Workforce Management

Many people think of accountability as guilt or blame, and as a result, the idea of it can be intimidating. However, when done right, the prospect of taking accountability doesn’t need to be intimidating.

There are many benefits to taking accountability in the workplace. Workplace accountability can encourage teamwork among employees, strengthen transparency, and improve or benefit employee performance.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about accountability in the workplace and why it is important, and provide examples of model accountability in the workplace.

What Taking Accountability in the Workplace Means

Accountability in the Workplace

In order to meet deadlines and expectations in the workplace, it is necessary to take accountability. Accountability is about much more than owning up to mistakes. It also includes taking ownership of or responsibility for your tasks and striving to do the best you can.

How is Accountability Important?

Accountability in the Workplace

Accountability is important for a company’s development because it breeds a sense of commitment to work and meeting others’ expectations. It allows team members to hold each other accountable, and for employees to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of others.

More accountability in an organization’s culture increases the ability to be responsible and creates a working environment where employees don’t pass the blame to others, but instead learn to take ownership when something goes wrong.

Examples of Workplace Accountability

Accountability in the Workplace

Many people in the workplace agree to commitments, but never follow through with them. This sets a bad example of accountability and can damage the trust of other team members, or between leaders and employees.

Here are some great examples of employee accountability in the workplace:

Suggesting Solutions to Problems

Managers want their employees to be proactive and take initiative at work, and one way to achieve this is by bringing solutions when there is a problem. Bosses and colleagues who neglect to find solutions to problems can cause frustration in the workplace.

While you may not have all the answers to every problem, accountability starts by taking a positive and proactive approach. This can be done by getting involved in finding solutions and can boost morale within the team, earn trust from leaders or team members, and promote accountability from other employees.


It’s easy to get so caught up in day-to-day work tasks that you forget to sit back and reevaluate what is and what is not working in terms of yourself, your work environment, and the coworkers around you.

However, accountability requires taking an honest look at the things that can help you understand where to make proactive changes so that you will be able to move forward and progress – as opposed to taking a reactive approach.


Being coachable and having the willingness to learn are some of the best examples of accountability in the workplace. It is important to listen to advice from others, as this may help you to avoid issues in the future that could have negative effects on your career or personal life.

There is always more than one way to do something, and others may know something you don’t. Be sure to ask when you don’t know, and be open to accepting skills and knowledge when it is passed on to you.


Accountability in the Workplace

Personal accountability includes accepting responsibility for mistakes you made and taking the necessary steps to resolve the problem and avoid making the same mistake in the future.

While admitting you were wrong can sometimes be difficult, it is important to remember that making mistakes is part of human nature. The best way to deal with such situations is to admit your mistake, actively search for solutions, and learn from them.

Speaking Up and Saying What Needs to be Said

If you see something wrong happening in your workplace, it may be difficult to speak up. However, ignoring the problem is just another way of contributing to it, and showcases a lack of accountability. This can lead to problematic situations continuing and escalating when they could have and should have been dealt with sooner.

It is better to be brave and speak up when you notice a problem. As a result, you contribute to the working environment improving for everyone once the problem is resolved.

Accountability also includes taking a strong stance where others won’t. This could mean saying something others won’t like hearing, but having the courage to do so anyway.

Accept Criticism Gracefully

Apart from being able to accept responsibility for one’s actions, one of the most important accountability skills is being able to accept criticism with grace. In order to do so, you must be able to let go of your ego and listen to others when they provide you with constructive criticism and feedback.

Taking such feedback and growing from it can help you grow and develop, both in your professional life and your personal life.

Stay Focused

The workplace is always filled with distractions that need to be dealt with. As a result, you may need a lot of resilience, determination, and patience to focus on your work tasks and other things that require attention.

How you handle yourself in such situations demonstrates your values and your work ethic. Effective prioritizing of tasks can mean more respect from colleagues and superiors and forms part of accountability in the workplace.

Good Communication despite Disagreements

Accountability in the Workplace

It’s impossible to agree with everyone. In the workplace, teams are made up of several people, each with their own personality and views. As a result, there tend to be differences of opinion.

While it may be difficult to remain calm in a situation where you feel that you are right and another person is not, being mature enough to handle disagreements calmly and patiently is an excellent way to become more accountable. This way, you will be able to successfully communicate your ideas and thoughts during a disagreement in the team, without emotions getting the better of you.

In turn, others will be able to learn from and follow your example when dealing with differences of their own.

Sincere Apologies

A sincere apology can go a long way in the workplace.

It is a good idea to apologize first after a disagreement or making a mistake, especially once you realize you are at fault. When apologies are sincere, others can see that you are taking accountability and learning from you.

Policies and Procedures

Workers tend to lose trust, respect, and confidence in people who do not follow protocol or established procedures in the workplace. Having such procedures in place is an excellent way to measure accountability and keep tabs on employees trying to cut corners.

Show Up

Constant absenteeism or missed deadlines are quick ways to lose respect and value in a workplace. Workers who take accountability are those who consistently show up for work, either at the right time or early, and rarely miss important briefings or team meetings.

In order to take accountability for tasks assigned to you, and the conditions laid out in your work description, you will need to be involved and present on a daily basis.

Confront Problems

Accountability in the Workplace

Accountability means being able to confront problems. Dealing with them directly shows bravery, and that you are not afraid to deal with shortcomings and challenges in the workplace.

In turn, this can be a great way to show others that they are being counterproductive when they actively avoid problems.

Initiative and Leadership

While most companies hold employees accountable and expect each team member to showcase a sense of accountability, you may still find yourself in situations where people around you are unable to perform tasks.

However, part of being held accountable is helping and guiding colleagues who are struggling, even when you won’t benefit from it directly. This shows your leadership skills and a willingness to take initiative.

Transparency and Sharing Information

Accountability can help to foster positive relationships, employee engagement, and higher job satisfaction in the workplace. It also fosters an environment of openness and transparency when you show others that you can be honest with yourself and your team members.

While this goes for taking responsibility for your mistakes and being transparent about issues that may halt progress in the workplace, it also includes sharing ideas or knowledge that could help coworkers and team members to perform better in their jobs.

Additionally, sharing ideas and information with others can help to avoid misunderstandings. It also ensures that every team member understands the goals of the team or company as a whole, and is able to work towards them.

This also helps to improve efficiency with teamwork and communication across different teams and departments. This is also a good way to encourage accountability and honesty in others.

Assisting Colleagues

Accountability in the Workplace

When you showcase your ability to be held accountable, it earns the respect of coworkers and creates a safe space wherein employees feel that you can be trusted to help them complete tasks if needed.

This, in turn, shows your commitment and willingness when it comes to teamwork, and can result in high-performing teams.

Resolve Issues Before They Escalate

Another great way to embed accountability in your everyday work life is by being proactive when it comes to issues, and working to resolve them before they have a chance to escalate. Things can get out of hand quickly if problems are allowed to build up.

Take the time to resolve a problem as soon as it’s identified, instead of letting it get bigger. This can save everyone a lot of trouble and encourages employees to voice problems before they escalate, too.

Honesty and Openness

Being honest and open with superiors is a great way to earn their trust. This can mean simply speaking up when you have a problem or when a situation falls outside of your skill set.

Another way to earn trust is by consistently achieving great results without needing to be micro-managed by superiors.

Responsibility for Team Performance

Someone who is accountable is someone who also accepts responsibility for what happens in a team, as this is a reflection on the team leader.

When a team isn’t performing well, it is the responsibility of the team leader to improve those results by working with the entire team and showing commitment to achieving team goals. Similarly, a high-performing team reflects well on the manager.

Attention to Detail

Accountability in the Workplace

Double-checking work for flaws or potential improvements before submitting it is a disciplined way of working and shows accountability. Creating the habit of checking your work, or the work of team members, carefully before submitting it is also a great way to avoid mistakes further down the line.