What Does Accountability Mean to You?

Accountability is a word that gets thrown around in business, but what does it mean to you? Is it about being perfect and never making mistakes? Is it about what you did or what you failed to do? Is it about finding excuses when things go wrong? Is it something you expect from your employees, or something you expect from yourself? 

Accountability has many meanings in our work and personal lives. For business owners, it’s a quality that can make or break your business.

What is accountability?

Quite simply, accountability means taking responsibility—to yourself, your employees, your partners, your clients, customers, and family.

In business, you have to be accountable for financial commitments and obligations. Accountability is also one of the keys to repeat business. If customers discover you don’t take responsibility for your services or products, they won’t return—and they may tell others about their negative experiences.

There’s a misconception that accountability only applies to situations where problems have occurred. It’s also about taking the necessary steps to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

No excuses

The first step in being accountable is taking responsibility. President Truman famously had a sign on his desk that stated: “The buck stops here.” It’s a great motto for a business owner. 

When a customer brings attention to an error or faulty service, the best response is “I can fix this by …” not blaming others. The customer isn’t interested in who is to blame for mistakes. 

Accountability turns something that didn’t work out as planned into an opportunity to win a customer’s loyalty and repeat business. It creates trust and builds a relationship.

Goals define accountability

When it comes to asking your employees to be accountable, clearly inform them what they are accountable for. Performance criteria and performance reviews reinforce accountability. 

Strive to create a workplace environment where employees understand they can own up to mistakes without fear. Support their growth and progress towards doing their jobs better.

Accountability is not about being perfect

Accountability doesn’t mean never making a mistake. In fact, the pressure of such a high standard creates anxiety and can lead to tension and friction in the workplace. Rather, it’s about creating a culture of honesty and support among the business owner and employees and putting emphasis on making things right and learning to do better as a team.

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