Leadership’s unrelenting focus on accountability is essential for your credit union’s performance. Establishing a culture of accountability starts at the top. Senior leaders must make sure that they themselves and their managers have the skills and knowledge needed to create and ensure employee accountability. Yet in many organizations, managers do not have the needed skills to create a culture that infuses accountability into the organizational DNA. CareerBuilder.com, an on-line resource for job opportunities and advice, reported recently that 58% of managers said they did not receive any management training, let alone training on the skills needed for creating a healthy system around accountability.
Too many managers and employees see accountability as a top-down, command and control system, focused on checking-off items on a “to-do list”. This approach alienates the workforce and is counterproductive. It can leave people feeling undervalued and neglected. Criticism of work products created and threats around deliverables demotivate, and actually deter accountability. Instead of learning from mistakes and creating more effective habits for future achievement, employees are forced to hide or cover up mistakes. They are not coached to build upon what is working well and they are not shown, coached or guided on how to learn best practices to change unproductive behaviors.
What then should leaders do to create an accountability infused culture? In an accountability culture, leaders assure that employees know their roles and responsibilities. Gallup found that only about half of company employees know what’s expected of them. Leadership needs to make sure that managers have the training and skills needed to effectively interact with employees with a rhythm of ongoing communication. Employees should be involved in the goal-setting process. Their participation in teaming with management to create personal objectives spurs their commitment to achievement and builds trust between the manager and the employee. Building trust is particularly important. A recent HBR study reported that 54% of employees do not have a great deal of trust in their employers. Strong attention needs to be paid to employee development. For millennials, who comprise almost 50% of the current workforce, personal growth and development is the number one workplace consideration.
Both managers and employees need to learn how to engage in constructive, ongoing, two-way conversations. A collaborative approach to goal-setting will result in the creation of measurable objectives that are aligned with organizational values, mission and strategy. When people have a say in the objectives to be accomplished, they understand how their work fits into the big organizational picture and it galvanizes their commitment to achieve them. Feedback should be frequent, following a regular rhythm, and provided in the spirit of coaching.
Celebrating successes and acknowledging employee accomplishments frequently and on a timely basis is a powerful tool for sustaining a culture of accountability. This low or no-cost “employee benefit” yields results. Employees see that they are valued by their managers, and when they feel valued, productivity rises. Their desire for achievement greatly increases the likelihood of them completing what is needed and expected. Your employees will remember acknowledgement, especially when it comes from someone senior. A culture of accountability will put your credit union’s employees and managers on the same team, aligned to ensure desired results.