Personal accountability has you feeling frustrated.

Scores in this range typically mean accountability doesn’t come naturally for you. That doesn’t mean you are neglectful of your responsibilities or disrespectful of coworkers, but rather you aren’t clear on what exactly it means to be truly accountable. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes it’s not until we’ve redefined something that we can find our way to understanding. If you’re seeking a clearer picture of what it means to be accountable, refer to the questions below and start thinking through an improvement plan. 

What are my expectations?

When we set expectations it helps guide everything we do. When it comes to work, it’s critical to gain complete clarity about the nature of your work, what the desired outcomes are, and how to identify the best decisions to realize your goals. 

What is my approach?

We often equate accountability with gaining ownership or taking responsibility. While that’s certainly a big part of accountability, it’s not everything. If you can’t communicate your own needs or are selective about which aspects of your work you take ownership to, true accountability will remain elusive. It’s important to assess your approach to accountability from a perspective of being consistent, collaborative, and communicative. 

How is my emotional intelligence?

When it comes to having the difficult conversations about accountability, the impact of emotional intelligence can’t be overstated. Start your emotional intelligence audit by establishing your personal emotional awareness. If you’ve got your emotions under control—and understand the interplay of others’ emotions—you’ll be able to have much more constructive performance review conversations, navigate emotionally charged situations at work more effectively, and gain the confidence you need to reframe emotional conversations arounds the actual results everyone should be working towards.

Am I getting bogged down by assumptions?

When we are attuned to accountability, it can sometimes put the performance of our peers—or even managers—under a microscope. When we make assumptions about why certain decisions have been made, or why certain people are struggling to deliver on their commitments, we only frustrate ourselves, and distract from our own accountability practice. Because here’s the secret: more often than not, our assumptions are dead wrong. And they siphon our energy away from taking ownership and delivering on our own expectations. 

How do I receive feedback?

First, if you feel you aren’t receiving effective or actionable feedback from your manager, start the process of having that accountability conversation. However, if you are receiving regular, detailed, actionable, and well-intentioned feedback, take stock of how you are receiving that information. Are your emotions creating a negative reaction? Is your instinct to get defensive and assign blame? If you want to be accountable, you need to receive this feedback with an open mind, and importantly, take ownership over your work moving forward, as well as over any improvement plans agreed upon in conversation with your manager. 

Am I aligned with the culture?

Your conversations are your relationships, and they are also representative of the culture within which you work. Take note of the conversations you’re having with colleagues, and in particular your role in those conversations. Are you not getting the support you need to take ownership? Or, are you not engaged enough to make good on these conversations? For the former, the organization needs to reinforce its commitment to accountability. With the latter, it’s incumbent on you to change how you engage with performance reviews and get aligned with the culture of accountability. 

What consequences do I face if I am not accountable?

It’s important first and foremost to have sturdy personal guardrails in place to help return you to accountability. At work, make sure you are clear about the consequences of not holding up your end of the bargain. Consequences are the flipside of accountability. If you notice consequences piling up in life or at work, there’s a strong possibility that you are straying from accountability. Revisit the above considerations to find your way back.

To read more about Jen’s culture-shifting approach to accountability, download a free chapter of Own Up!

If you need help developing and sustaining a personal accountability practice, or are a manager hoping to transform how their organization approaches accountability, inquire about working with Jen today!

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