Being held accountable for our actions and promises, in theory, is something that we can all agree on. If someone promises to do something we should expect them to go ahead and do that thing, right? If a person does something that “isn’t cool”, should they perhaps face some sort of consequence for that thing they did? Absolutely.

Where this gets tricky is when you/me/we are actually held accountable. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, and it tends to give us a lot of anxiety.

It’s also one of the most important skills we can and should develop in our careers. Holding ourselves and others accountable to their actions, behaviors, promises, etc.

Holding someone besides ourselves accountable is an easy thing to sign up for, but more difficult in practice as it requires having a difficult and uncomfortable conversation with someone. On the flip-side, holding ourselves accountable is just as difficult because it requires admitting to a mistake, righting a wrong, etc.

Here are a few tips to get better at practicing and promoting accountability:

  1. If you know that you did something wrong, or made a mistake – try to get ahead of it by bringing it up directly to the people involved. It’s not easy to do but you will feel SO much better afterward.
  2. When someone has broken an agreement with you – allow them time and space to speak to you directly. If they don’t come to you relatively soon (within a couple days) take it upon yourself to start the conversation and don’t put it off! If you let it go without addressing it, that will just make it harder to confront if it happens again.
  3. To promote accountability in general, be sure to set very clear expectations. The easiest way to get into trouble is having loose requirements and soft expectations. Get ahead by being transparent with your needs, and others will start to follow suit.

Fostering a culture of accountability is something we should all strive for. Remember that it’s easier for some, and harder for most. Give yourself and others some grace as you begin your journey to greater accountability.

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