Executives and business owners ask me about employee accountability all the time. They want to know how to make employees accountable.

I’d like to give you a resounding yes! Yes, you can improve employee accountability! But unfortunately I can’t tell you that.

I don’t believe employee accountability is a lost cause, but so many factors have an impact on the problem that there is not a simple solution. For example:  Were the employees raised to accept responsibility and be accountable; in their professional life have they worked for a company where accepting accountability was acknowledged or punished when things went wrong; are you certain they understood your request; did someone or something else get in the way? There are many factors to consider.

The single biggest factor in employee accountability, though, is you as the leader. We often believe we communicate clearly and our requests are understood, and I’m betting that more often than not it isn’t so.

I’m also betting that you assume that because they’re nodding their head, saying okay, or just sitting silently, they understand you and have agreed. Not so.

To improve employee accountability you have to begin with your own communication. Make sure you clearly define your expectations and the conditions of satisfaction (by when, how, who, what, color, etc., etc.). The next step is to confirm that they understood and agreed to complete your request.

Until these are handled well you will never be able to have the level of employee accountability you desire.