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Employee Training, Team building, Motivation, Change Management

Can We Teach Accountability?

January 15, 2013

Accepting responsibility for our actions seems almost novel.

The idea of accepting personal responsibility for our own actions, while not new, sometimes seems almost novel. On any given day we hear in the news of another event in which someone faults others for personal mishaps. Afterall, there is great comfort in holding someone responsible other than ourselves for the bad things that happen in our lives.

As for developing more accountable employees in organizations, To some great extent, as organizations we created our own challenge. For the greater part of the 20th century, corporations nurtured a parental relationship with the employee assuming the responsibility for the employee’s development, training, communication, pension and healthcare. Not suggesting corporations should /should not have assumed this responsibility – the economy afforded companies this opportunity.  However, as our economy changed – more accurately expanded into a highly competitive global economy – the luxury of providing such employee benefits became difficult at best.

As employees we relinquished much of our personal responsibility for our development, after all, the companies were willing to assume to assume the responsibility. No longer is that the case. Employees can no longer expect life-time employment with a single organization, employees cannot expect to be provided the necessary company sponsored training as organizations are as apt to hire the necessary skills than to burden the expense of training personnel. Additionally, employees are experiencing an erosion of traditional retirement benefits, as pension plans are not being offered to new employees and being frozen for existing employees. As for healthcare, employees are being expected to shoulder a much greater part of this expense.

As employees we are now expected to assume the responsibility for our own development, training, communication and as of recently, become more involved in making appropriate retirement decisions.

Back to our original question, can we teach accountability? Can we convince employees to become more accountable for their own success and that of their company? Absolutely, and it begins with conveying to the individuals of the organization the value,necessity and benefit of becoming more self-managing. Further, we communicate the alternative to not assuming such responsibility and personal accountability. Employees must begin realizing the possible repercussions of placing their success exclusively in the hands of someone other than themselves.

And following this communication, we begin directly answering the question that begs from every employee, “what’s in it for me?” Seeking dialogue with our employees and teams as to their goals and objectives is crucial. It is important to make clear the relationship between the employee’s goals and those of the company. And in so doing, a motivation to succeed arises – the realization that the more we help our company achieve their goals the more we help ourselves. Also, as employees become more accountable for their success, through assuming responsibility for their development, they also become a more valuable and less dispensable asset to the organization.

This is only a starting place as an organization; it is important to continue the dialogue as to how leaders can develop the skill set and capability of “coaching” personal accountability and self-responsibility.

Charlie SelcerAbout the author: Charlie Selcer has provided organizations with employee training and development through Strictly Success Inc. for over 15 years. Strictly Success is a U.S. based employee training company for both the public and private sectors including some of America’s Fortune 1000 companies. Strictly Success specializes in high performance teams and teambuilding, employee motivation, employee accountability and change management.

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