Everyone struggles with accountability. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to help employees thrive in any work environment. 

The key to fostering accountability is first holding ourselves accountable as leaders. Are we doing all that we can? Are we holding ourselves to as high a standard as we do our employees? Are we making ourselves not just available but accessible to everyone?

Accountability for remote teams isn’t just about holding everyone to the same standards or changing how we track our projects. It’s a change in company culture. 

As I write in our new ebook, Looking to the Future: 2021 HR Trends and Predictions: A culture of accountability is a culture that encourages employees to develop resiliency: staying power, follow-through and the ability to manage change.” 

Let’s look at how a culture of accountability can be accomplished.

Learn how to set expectations

The expectations of a role should be made clear to an employee right from the start of their career with your organization. In hiring, you should look for employees who emphasize particular skills such as excellent time management, communication, and collaboration. They will be the change makers who will help shift your culture to that of one of accountability. 

Expectations should be spoken, not implied or only brought up after someone has failed to meet them. This is where transparency is crucial. Employees should be given the chance to rise to expectations that have been clearly communicated to them. 

With flexibility being a natural facet of remote work, it’s important that employees are clearly told when they need to be available, which meetings are mandatory to join, and the expectations around handling common work-from-home disruptions such as Wi-Fi issues or children who need attention.

Invest in communication tools 

In order to promote accountability, leaders have to invest in tools that are easy for employees to adopt. A chat application such as Slack is great for instant communication—the digital equivalent of stopping by someone’s desk.  

Related Reading: Better Team Meetings to Boost Engagement

A chat messaging system also allows for more casual conversations, which are essential to creating a sense of belonging and community within dispersed teams. 

Investing in HRIS systems with push notifications makes it easier to share important information (such as company policies, new updates, internal events) and give praise and recognition. Tools for simple tasks—vacation requests or expense reporting—are also useful. These tools can keep your workflow moving faster and employees feeling empowered and better connected within and with the organization.

Related Reading: Outside-the-Box Company Perks to Improve the Employee Experience

It’s also important that HR personnel and leaders hold themselves accountable for being available to employees to discuss any issues, personal or work, that may affect an employee’s performance. A poll on telecommuting found that 62% of employees reported feeling socially isolated when working from home.

Master the art of goal-setting

Accountability also means encouraging employees to set goals for themselves, which can be both realistic goals and stretch goals. Managers should help employees set goals that align with the company vision and that cascade into both departmental and personal goals. 

Goal setting should be an integrated process. Leaders should encourage the use of digital goal-setting tools to allow employees to track their progress and keep on top of priorities. These apps can also help remove roadblocks for employees by facilitating feedback and coaching directly within the application. This also allows for a clear line of communication, enabling employees to be both engaged and accountable. 

Related Reading: Looking Beyond the Curve: How You Can Help Employees Keep Focused

The key to the goal-setting process is allowing employees to speak candidly about what they want to achieve in their career. As leaders, our role is to point them in the right direction and give them the resources they need to excel. 

Performance reviews are a very important part of managing an employee’s success. It’s estimated that approximately 70% of multinational companies are transitioning to a regular performance review schedule, as opposed to an annual review. This approach focuses on development and emphasizes improvement and growth.

Successful goal setting is twofold: be hands-on with your employees but also give them the space to find success on their own.

Focus on outcomes over output

Focusing on outcomes—rather than output—means allowing employees to hold themselves accountable for how they use their time. This also means that leaders need to give their employees the tools and skills they need to do their jobs effectively, and then trust that the work is getting done. 

Another important facet of accountability for remote teams is resiliency. Employees who can adapt to different working conditions and know how to hold themselves accountable will be more resilient to change and future crises. 

Related Reading: Resilience in the Face of the Unpredictable

Holding ourselves and others accountable doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process. Failure is the opportunity to do better in the future and to learn how we can motivate ourselves to stay on task. By setting expectations, being flexible when possible, and empowering employees to set goals, we can create the culture of accountability that’s necessary for remote teams to thrive.  


Want to know more about the top 2021 priorities in HR and how leaders can act on them? I invite you to download our ebook, Looking to the Future: 2021 HR Trends and Predictions.   

Download it now for free.

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