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How to Keep Employees Accountable and Motivated in the Workplace

You want your team to move like a well-oiled machine. Everyone on your team plays a crucial role in whether your company succeeds or fails, so how do you ensure each employee maintains motivation in the workplace? The answer is accountability.

What is Accountability?

Accountability can sound jarring at first. It can seem like a term your teachers used when you didn’t turn in your homework, or your parents used when you didn’t finish all of your chores. The term can have a negative connotation, but it can be a launching point for a motivated team when used in the proper context.

Accountability comes down to doing your part for the good of the team. When enforcing accountability, start by explaining to your team that accountability is not associated with punishment but rather with goals. If you do not meet your level of accountability, it doesn’t mean you’ll instantly be fired. Instead, teach your employees that accountability means setting goals you should strive for to better yourself and your company.

How Does Accountability Influence Motivation?

When your employees know what is expected of them and that you believe in their abilities to reach their goals, they will be more motivated to do just that. By letting employees know your clear expectations, they can push themselves to meet the accountability markers you’ve set.

How to Hold Employees Accountable?

1. Focus on the Individual. Employees should know the company's overarching goals, but they should also know what's expected of them individually. Meet with your employees individually and explain what you expect from them. Having clear goals will motivate your employees to work toward them.

2. Reward the Good. When your employees live up to your standards, reward them for their accomplishments. This reward doesn't have to be an extravagant affair. Simply acknowledging their hard work in a company meeting can be the validation they need to know they're on the right track and continue the course.

3. Don’t Punish, Teach. When an employee slips up, don't resort to punishment. Punishment isn't productive in a company. Instead, when an employee doesn't live up to the standards that you're holding them to, inquire why they couldn't meet the goals and readjust them accordingly. This may be a teachable moment about time management, focus, and other learned skills.

4. Set Goals Right Away. If you haven't set goals from day one for your employees, start now. When you bring on a new employee, make sure they know what you expect from them from day one.

5. Hold Yourself Accountable. If the boss of a company isn't living up to their accountability standards, the employees won't want to push themselves either. Hold yourself accountable and acknowledge publicly when you make a mistake. Breaking this wall reveals your fallible humanity, which can motivate your employees.

Keep Evolving

Keeping employees accountable and motivated is a never-ending process that should expand with your company. As your employees grow and evolve in your company, your standards for accountability will change. Constantly set new goals and look into how you can help enact change.


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