Accountability at the Workplace

Here is a story published by Ian Golding on 

The story is about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

This story explains the situation that many professionals experience at work daily – lack of accountability, lack of ownership, lack of responsibility, finger-pointing, and blame-assigning. These situations have significant negative effects on an organisation. Accountability is an essential skill for both personal and professional life.

Accountability is the acceptance and obligation to carry out a responsibility. This includes being answerable for decisions, actions, and outcomes. Accountability helps to avoid negligence or misconduct in the workplace. Each employee is accountable for carrying out specific tasks. The manager will also be responsible for controlling and directing the team. 

An accountable person takes responsibility and manages responsibility, has practical time management skills, makes no excuses, and works with the other team members.

Accountability has a powerful effect on a business’s results. Accountability helps ensure every team member understands the company’s values and why they engage in certain practices. Each employee is working toward the same overall goal. Every individual must be aware of the importance of accountability in the workplace. Otherwise, they will need to understand the impact of their position and, therefore, perform adequately.



Accountability at the workplace starts with personal accountability. Personal accountability is taking full responsibility for your actions and outcomes. This form of accountability can result in higher happiness and feelings of personal achievement. Building personal accountability includes envisioning your future, setting measurable goals, taking ownership, solving problems, and choosing appropriate attitudes and behaviours.

Some common scenarios for holding oneself and employees accountable are:

  1. Resuming work late.
  2. Not Meeting Deadlines
  3. Turning in Poor work quality
  4. Not Being a Good Team Player.
  5. Negative attitude
  6. Lack of initiative

In his Harvard Business Review article on How to encourage employee accountability, Ron Carucci wrote based on his 30 years of observing leaders who do well at encouraging employee accountability and through his research on accountability. He identified three significant shifts leaders need to make to ensure that the accountability experience dignifies employees’ work and challenges them to make greater achievements — without making them feel demeaned or insignificant. Leaders should make dignity the foundation, focus on fairness, and make restoration, not blame, the goal.

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