Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck
There are too many business people that see themselves as victims. As a result, they consistently avoid taking responsibility, ownership, and accountability for their mistakes. Lack of accountability in the workplace doesn’t just make it hard to manage your teammates—it can also affect your bottom line and create distrust in your team.
While you should never hire someone with a victim mentality, sometimes employees who do good work can fall into patterns of making excuses and deflecting blame. Understanding why they do this is essential to break the cycle and improve your office culture.
What Causes Lack of Accountability?
There are two main reasons employees might show a lack of accountability in the workplace, and it’s essential to know which one you’re dealing with when wondering how to hold employees accountable for this behavior.
The first reason is fear. An employee is afraid of being disciplined for a mistake or worried about their job security, so they blame others or make excuses about their work being up to par. If you suspect this is the case, you should ask yourself: have you given this employee a reason to feel uncomfortable at work?
It would be best if you always worked to create a business culture where your employees aren’t afraid of failure and where mistakes are treated as part of the growth journey. If you’re confident you have this culture, the employee may be traumatized from a previous job where people were shamed for slipping up.
If you sense that this is why your employee lacks accountability in the workplace, it’s essential to have compassion when you talk to them. Explain the pattern you’ve noticed, and make sure they know that you never want to shame an employee for making mistakes but rather understand why they might have happened.
Help them see the importance of taking personal responsibility by leading by example. You can also prevent this by recognizing employees for performing well so they don’t feel like their slip-ups are the only thing you notice.
The second reason for the lack of accountability in the workplace is arrogance. Employees believe themselves to be so great at their job that they can’t possibly make a mistake. So they blame others and always seem to have multiple excuses but can never admit that they messed up.
These employees are much harder to coach, and if they cannot see the error of their ways after one severe warning, it’s time to let them go. Toxic attitudes will only hurt the rest of your team. Everyone must understand the importance of accountability, but you can’t say you value responsibility if you let these victims off the hook.
Your role as a leader is to reshape the victim mentality of blame, excuses, and denial into ownership, accountability, and responsibility. Ask yourself, would I enthusiastically rehire this person? If the answer is no, it’s time to find a replacement.
Leadership and accountability go hand in hand. So please fill out my contact form, and let’s talk about installing the winning attitude of ownership in your team.