What is accountability ?
The word accountability is one of those expressions in English that does not have an exact definition in its translation, but in Portuguese it conveys the idea of responsibility , proactivity, commitment, transparency and accountability .
It’s a small word, but its meanings reflect the great value it has for organizations.
Know that the term is quite comprehensive: it is widely used in the areas of accounting, finance and controllership of companies – mainly in public agencies -, which need to account for their activities.
In public management
When using accountability in public management, for example, these institutions need to report on their activities to other bodies of the three branches of government.
This type of accountability, between companies of the same profile, is called horizontal accountability .
That is, peer institutions monitor each other through activity and financial reports.
Still in the sense of financial management , we also have vertical accountability , which is when control is carried out in different spheres. An example of this is when people pressure companies to account for the use of public money.
In private management and HR
Understand that it is not only public entities that are required to prove their income and expenses.
Private companies, especially those formed by large companies and have many shareholders, also need to be accountable .
Therefore, when you see the use of this word in the economic field, you will already have an idea of what it is about.
However, accountability in companies is much more comprehensive and for the Human Resources sector it has a very important bias in people management.
The term in question has immense value for organizations, as it allows the promotion of self -responsibility and represents a change in the entire structure, not only referring to employees.
How does HR accountability work?
The concept of accountability in HR consists of generating accountability and more commitment in leaders and employees and is a work to be carried out through various actions that aim to change the mentality of all teams .
Remember how earlier we talked about the culture of making excuses and justifications for actions, especially when something goes wrong?
This is something natural for human beings and often ends up being reinforced by the baggage of life that we carry.
An example of this is when a child is very demanding from an early age, and when he is not able to accomplish everything that is expected of him – and with the success that he expects – he is pressured and feels the need to outsource the problem or find an escape through justifications.
When faced with school life or the job market, that is, where she has to deal with external environments and demands, as this is a behavior she is already used to repeating, this situation tends to happen frequently.
Thus, when he feels compelled and needs to be accountable, this person seeks refuges to neutralize his own responsibility .
The good news is that it is possible to work this through accountability and especially with the help of HR.
The sector’s mission is to understand and promote the basic premises of this concept and these are:
- problem recognition;
- admission of responsibility;
- elaboration of solutions to solve this problem;
- application of solutions.
1-Formation of accountability teams
When employees understand the importance of being more proactive and committed in their actions within the organization, they have attitudes that move from “excusability” to accountability .
In other words, a much more ethical, mature, conscious and responsible attitude is adopted instead of making excuses when something happens.
Therefore, HR can help in the formation of accountability people , that is, ethical employees, who keep their word, respect schedules , are committed to deliveries, in addition to being voluntarily responsible and not because they are obliged to be or for prove something.
In addition, accountability points out who is really wearing the company’s shirt and striving to deliver more and who is also not contributing or making an effort to achieve the expected results.
Thus, through accountability, it is possible to take action when expectations are not being met.
So, when we talk about the broad translation of accountability, did you notice how synonyms like “responsibility” and “accountability” are not able to deliver everything that the term represents for a company due to the strength that the word has?
Therefore, even though the expression is often used in financial and economic management matters, it is also closely related to people management.
It’s up to the industry to make the best of this and we’ll explain how and what the benefits are below.
Why invest in a culture of accountability in the company?
Adopting a culture of accountability guarantees many advantages for both the company and employees.
Among the most important are transparency and trust in relationships and this is very valuable in such a competitive environment as the corporate one.
Transparency is noticeable, because when self-responsibility is rooted in the culture , there is no outsourcing of blame and no one needs to feel inhibited to assume mistakes.
With a more open organizational climate , it is possible to know what activities are being developed, by whom they are being carried out and who to look for as responsible. So there is more openness to dialogue and feedback. Check out other advantages!
1-Reinforces the sense of autonomy among employees
Employees who are encouraged to develop through accountability are always looking for ways to evolve professionally and achieve new goals.
They are encouraged to change their mindset daily, become less dependent on their leaders and more active, autonomous and aware of their responsibilities.
2-Identifies new leaders
Every company gains from workers who seek growth and the example above leads us to unfold another great benefit of accountability : the motivation of a sense of leadership among workers.
The constant search for professional self-development helps them to want to reach new heights, such as being a leader .
As for the managers, it is easier to identify who these people are and to know who is ready or not to assume positions of higher hierarchy, since the individual results will speak for themselves through the rendering of accounts and there will be no room for guesswork or favoritism.
3-Improves the decision-making process
Accountability within the scope of Human Resources also requires measuring the results of each employee in numbers.
For this to be done, one must rely on specialized tools and, after individual data has been collected, it is possible to make decisions, such as layoffs, promotions and reassignments, based on concrete results.
4-Enables fair reward and accountability
The ethical factor promoted when investing in accountability allows professionals who have made mistakes to be held accountable and rewards those who achieve goals or exceed expectations.
Even with the adoption of this mentality, employees themselves feel obliged to recognize what is right and what is wrong.
5-Allows you to focus more on results and productivity
When the goals are clear to everyone and who is responsible for them well defined, the greater the chances of understanding what needs to be done to achieve them and to focus on delivering the expected result.
And with open dialogue , the team will be able to communicate better to understand how internal productivity is progressing .
6-Facilitates crisis management
As much as a crisis can bring learning later, it is very difficult to think of efficient solutions during its confrontation due to the wear and tear that the situation causes.
However, when there is a culture of accountability , it is easier to identify which processes have failed and who was responsible.
From there, it becomes much easier to direct to a faster solution , delegate functions effectively and fairly and not overload anyone without reason, or contribute to making the scenario even worse.
How to adopt the concept of accountability ?
The main concept of accountability , as you can see, is to generate accountability. Having this understanding is essential to be able to devise strategies that involve teams and leaders towards improving the company’s posture in this regard.
Therefore, rethinking policies and values is the first step. The following are some practical suggestions.
1-Encourage respect for each other’s faults
We are talking about accountability and accepting failures, without outsourcing them, but we know that this is a delicate and often embarrassing situation , which is why many people find it difficult to deal with this problem.
However, if the company has a culture that to err is human and that the important thing is to assume and correct, all professionals will feel more comfortable to recognize them, without fear of judgment and criticism from their peers.
It is important to emphasize that, in addition to correction, one of the main premises of accountability is the prevention of errors.
2-Strengthen the culture of ethics in the company
Behaviors alien to the company’s values must be repressed even if they are not directly linked to work.
Curbing the Brazilian culture of the famous “dar a jeitinho” is one of the ways to combat unethical actions , no matter how small. After all, a “small” slip is just as wrong as one that is considered serious.
3-Align expectations with those involved
One of HR’s missions is to teach how employees should be accountable while they are at the company and make it clear how these duties will be held by their managers .
Therefore, individual and team goals must be aligned and understood by all.
Know that in addition to being a necessary attitude to ensure a healthy climate internally and ensure the smooth running of activities, aligning expectations is also important for employees to feel more confident, secure and at ease to establish dialogues; for them, it is essential to feel support from the company.
Everyone likes to be recognized, even if their actions do not represent more than the duty to do.
However, when it comes to the corporate environment, few things are more valuable than recognition and encouragement, no matter how it happens.
Therefore, whenever possible, praise the attitudes towards colleagues, value the successes and highlight the results as good accountability of teamwork.
If you can reward or reward something tangible, that is interesting for both the company and the employees, even better.
Thus, those who are not yet on the same wavelength as the rest of the team will feel encouraged to take part and be recognized as well.
This is a good strategy, including to increase the motivation of those professionals who are not delivering good results.
Bear in mind that accountability also represents a better positioning of the company and an improvement in its image with customers.
When processes are carried out in an ethical, transparent and responsible manner, in addition to the entire team transmitting this, these values also reflect the company’s culture to the market , which gains more trust in the brand .
Finally, understand that disseminating in employees the feeling of being the owner of the business and of being directly responsible for the results is one of the most important and challenging premises of accountability for HR.
However, it is a healthy process that must be conquered with daily actions and by changing the key to an increasingly committed mentality.