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Why is accountability at work so important?

Why is accountability at work so important?

If you’re a church goer, you’ve probably heard the word ‘accountability’ being bandied about in a church setting, but what’s it got to do with work? Well, let’s look at what it means and then apply it to a potential work situation.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as: “The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.” To give a fair balance, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as: “A situation in which someone is responsible for things that happen and can give a satisfactory reason for them.”

Often we think about accountability as the act of getting together with a few people we know, spilling our guts to them about our darkest secrets and asking them to support us in our quests to overcome them and stay on track. It’s all about honesty and sharing and mutual support in church settings.

This obviously isn’t appropriate in the workplace, although it’s a good idea to be honest and to support our colleagues. But as per the definitions, accountability has a much broader application. In simple terms, it means being responsible for certain things and being able to explain the decisions you’ve made. It should also stretch to owning up to mistakes when you make them and committing to putting them right.

What it says about you

Being accountable at work will give your employer a clear view of your character. It shows that you are a trustworthy person, both in and beyond the workplace. It also demonstrates maturity. If your bosses know they can count on you to do what you have said you will do, carry out your work diligently and be accountable for its outcome, you are really on to a winner.

Admitting to your shortcomings at the appropriate time is also likely to be seen in a positive light. That might mean communicating that you won’t be able to make a certain deadline or that you’ve perhaps gone over budget. Always be honest rather than sweeping thing under the carpet, and do all you can to fix problems as soon as they arise. If you can’t, find out who can and learn from your mistakes so that you can do a better job next time. 

It might seem counterintuitive, but the more upfront you are, and the more effort you put into making things right, the more respect you will earn from your employers. Protect the company’s interests, customers, projects, time and money at all times. If you’re able to show that you are accountable in the workplace, you will be trusted to do bigger and better jobs in the future, which will mark you out as a potential leader. Your responsible approach should rub off on your co-workers, making the overall team more accountable and trustworthy.


What it says about the company

Having accountable employees can only be a good thing for the company. It will reflect well on them when you deal with customers in an ethical way and take responsibility for everything you do. If you’re the kind of person who admits to making mistakes and pledges to put them right, even better! Everyone makes mistakes, but one thing that sets companies apart is their ability to turn potential disasters into opportunities. Being honest helps to manage people’s expectations and ensures better results for the consumer, and therefore the company.

This may even translate into a direct increase in turnover as clients become increasingly loyal and new customers are attracted as a result of your ethical and responsible approach. Integrity is a great asset for firms of all types and sizes, and it’s impossible to put a price on it. Furthermore, if your bosses trust you they won’t have to micromanage, recheck everything or question your judgement. This will free them up to do their own jobs, again increasing productivity and profitability for the company.