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The Culture of Accountability

the culture of accountability
The Culture of Accountability

What are the reasons for the improvement of work culture when people are accountable and take ownership?

What are your employees’ perceptions of concepts such as “responsibility” and “holding others accountable”? It is likely that they view them negatively, since they might not have fully understood what is meant by holding others accountable for and/or being held accountable themselves. Why is that, though, and what does the term “culture of accountability” means?

Leadership has attempted to impose accountability from the top down, which may have contributed to this. Or the search for the ‘accountable person’ when something went wrong. But, in reality, accountability doesn’t work like that. Many factors contribute to people adhering to their commitments, and none of them include being coerced. Top-down approaches send employees back to childhood, because they don’t cultivate trust and freedom, nor do they motivate them to succeed on their own.

Companies need to understand that great cultures inspire positive experiences. By delivering clarity of expectations and empowering ownership, you can create better experiences for everyone. DOOR helps you align your efforts around the required results, letting you reach your full potential. If we bring the topic “purpose” all of a sudden, it is mixing up too many concepts and fields.

But, why is it so crucial for employees to be held accountable? Let’s get straight to the point!

What is a Culture of Accountability?

In an environment of accountability, employees are accountable for their actions and work collaboratively with their colleagues to achieve goals and solve problems. It is essential to set clear expectations and goals, to communicate openly, and to build strong leadership in order to foster an accountability culture.

It is necessary to create, a results-driven culture and connect everyday experiences to the results you need to achieve, in a steady and consistent manner, until this newly created culture evolves to be your natural new stage. 

An accountability culture at work can offer numerous of benefits, including:

  • Increased trust, as a result of open communication in a culture of accountability. This increases productivity and satisfaction among employees.
  • Increased communication within the workplace, that boosts employee morale by fostering a culture of accountability.
  • Increased employee productivity by making them feel more engaged at work, and it helps them understand the consequences of not completing their work. Additionally, it prevents employees from spending time and effort on unproductive activities and behaviors.
  • Improvement of workplace success through establishing a culture of accountability among employees by encouraging them to feel more engaged and accountable to their coworkers.
  • Employees who feel confident in their work and understand their role and responsibilities, and who feel more comfortable being creative, which may lead to new innovations. Thus, a culture of accountability can foster creativity as well.

In fact, culture is a critical enabler for organizations to achieve their results. How they work together, interact, and solve problems will change in a positive way, and that is due to the evolution of their culture.

Hence, as foretold, accountability in the workplace implies each employee is accountable for his or her actions, behaviors, performance, and decisions. As a result of proper personal accountability, performance, and commitment increases at work. It’s only logical that an organization’s culture improves when employees believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves and understand the importance of their role, no matter how big or small, in the overall workplace ecosystem, isn’t it?

However, no matter how dreamy the concept of accountability sounds in theory, it isn’t always that easy in practice and having a lack of accountability in the workplace is a truly frustrating experience. Research found that 82% of managers acknowledge that they are unable to hold their subordinates accountable successfully. The result of low accountability is mistrust, low morale, a toxic office culture, all of which can be devastating to any organization. None want these traits in their workplace! 

Taking Responsibility versus Taking Accountability 

For accountability to be effective, people need a clear understanding of what it means. There is a common misconception that it means “responsibility”, when in fact it doesn’t. Essentially, responsibility and accountability are different. Responsibility can be delegated and shared, while accountability cannot.

In order to be accountable, you have to do more than just have a responsibility. Until someone truly owns the result of their commitment, they aren’t accountable.

Defining the words will help us understand them better!

  • Responsibility: Someone who is responsible is expected to do his or her best to complete the task. Individuals or groups can be responsible for a task so, a statement such as “We’re all responsible for customer service in this organization” would and could be perfectly accurate.

  • Accountability: Regardless of who is doing the work, an individual is always and exclusively accountable for the outcome. Note that the ability to delegate responsibility cannot be delegated, but the ability to delegate accountability can. An accountable individual must ensure that there is a plan and that the correct measurements are in place for indicating success or failure.

Accountability Barriers at Workplace

It is important to establish a culture of workplace accountability, but it can be tough; Companies and teams face a variety of obstacles when trying to implement such a strategy. Achieving it can be challenging, and your business may come across multiple challenges when developing the culture of accountability.

Oftentimes, a lack of culture of accountability stems from individuals not meeting expectations. It may also manifest at the team or company level as a simple acceptance of unacceptable behavior. When left unchecked, these bad organizational habits can undermine accountability and create confusion in the workplace.

Another person to blame? Having fuzzy priorities or vague expectations undermines accountability at work and can even lead to disaster. Progress can be slowed by uncommunicated (or poorly communicated) expectations. It is not only that implicit expectations cause confusion over tasks, but that they also create tension among relationships as well. Organizations may be distrustful as a result of this.

There is no doubt that accountability is hard work and requires substantial follow-up on both the part of leadership and employees. The obstacles and challenges are real, and most people have difficulty overcoming them. The effort still pays off, however.

The Culture of Accountability might be hard but it is worth the struggle

Despite this, we understand that employees or/and leaders may have trouble accepting responsibility for their mistakes. While admitting fault is difficult for most people, it is essential for business success in the long run. As you establish a culture of accountability within your company, everyone can improve and your company will prosper. Don’t be afraid to take a chance!


In light of all of the above, it is easy to understand why a company’s failure to apply the culture of accountability can often result in serious problems in the workplace, which can prove fatal.

Nevertheless, implementation of accountability remains difficult due to the fact that it requires an internal process which must be understood and followed by each employee, manager, or leader. But, the only way to make your company last is to integrate it into the workplace.

What is a good first step to bring the culture of accountability in the workplace?

Just let the experts handle enterprise-wide accountability instead of feeling overwhelmed! 

At DOOR, our trainings motivate, inspire ownership and innovation as well as increase the culture of accountability for delivering impact and value to achieve the organization’s goals, visibly and measurably. Unleash the power of your culture by embarking on a Culture Journey to deliver more impactful results.

Activate your culture now for sustained growth!