The truth is, concepts like “responsibility” and “being held accountable” aren’t popular. Most employees view them negatively. Often, leaders try to mandate responsibility to their employees from the top down. Unfortunately, this is not how responsibility works. Many of us are intrinsically motivated to fulfill most of our commitments for several reasons, but being mandated isn’t one of them – at least not effectively nor sustainably.

Applying this top-down approach can make your employees feel like kids. It doesn’t cultivate freedom and trust or even motivate employees to find a way to stay in control. A better approach asks leaders to encourage more responsibility from the employees by creating a culture that promotes and cascades accountability. Let’s take a look at how you can achieve this in your organization:

Define What Responsibility Means for Everyone

For your employees to achieve your goals, you need clearly defined expectations around responsibilities. As a company, you can have responsibilities that support our mission, value, and purpose, such as customer-centricity or quality on which your teams continuously focus. Also, you might need employees to focus on short-term or long-term responsibilities, but not permanent such as large-scale change initiatives. Either way, spending the time defining what these responsibilities mean for your teams and your employees will help you build a culture based on accountability.

Set and Cascade Goals Throughout the Company

Once your employees are clear on responsibilities, your next step is to help them set realistic, individual goals that align with their specific roles and responsibilities. Each employee should have metrics to help them know if and how they are delivering on their goals. Additionally, you should prioritize sharing out to the larger organization how everyone’s contributions impact and grow your business.

Ensure Accountability at All Levels

Developing accountability requires that accountability is applied to all levels of the company equally. Whether an employee is new or has been with you for years, you need to hold them to the same performance and behavior expectations as everyone else. Keeping all the employees accountable equally, regardless of talent, experience or seniority, will ensure that they all do their fair share of work, contributing positively to the company.

Align Development, Learning, and Growth

Finally, you need to give your staff equal opportunities to learn, improve, and grow. Doing this will help the employees address roadblocks that may hinder their ability to deliver on their specific goals while at the same time learning and growing in their role.