8th June 2020.
Article by Suhanya.
I hope you're all doing okay, especially given our current social climate, both online and offline.
Welcome to our sixth article of our re-launched blog.
This month's article will be part one of a two-part series, talking about the topic of accountability in both professional and personal settings.
If you would like to contribute to our blog, please email us with the subject “guest writer” to email@example.com with some detail about yourself and your writing experience (all experience levels welcome).
Take care and enjoy this month's article!
The topic of accountability shows up in many different forms in the world today. In our current climate, we are being faced with opportunities of accountability in justice, at work, our personal lives and within our hopes and dreams.
This article will be diving into the subject of accountability in the workplace, with some advice on how to practice accountability and be the best versions of yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard that old phrase “when you point the finger, there are three more pointing back at you” (and a thumb!) Are you the pointer? or the fall guy?
When I first started my role as a workforce analyst, I was sidelined as the latter, “the fall guy”. I was told to take responsibility for things that were outside of my control such as miscommunication between management, contacting external vendors, etc. The word “accountable” can often be thrown around by management in a ruse to shirk responsibility. With the help of a lot of reading, self reflection and action, one year on, I’ve been able to move away from being the “fall guy”, to being a trusted, reliable member of management.
Below are 7 points that have helped me along my journey:
- Stay firm on your responsibilities: Make sure you know your job description inside and out. This equips you to be able to give feedback as and when necessary, regarding what is in your line of scope and what isn’t. Your job description serves as your ticket into the business and as a legally binding contract. In addition to this, ask questions to align with what is expected of you from others. The blame game is easily dispersed when everyone that is involved is clear on their responsibilities.
- Learn to say NO: As tempting as it might be to want to help everybody, don’t be a hero. Be realistic with your workload, and use time constraints to organise tasks. When we overcommit ourselves, we risk our counterparts losing trust and confidence in our ability, if we fall short. Others will be more conscious of what they ask of you if they are aware of your workload.
- Check Yourself: It’s easy to become defensive when you feel like you’ve been backed into a corner. The most important thing for your own self-care is to ensure the environment is still safe for your psychological safety. This means, recognise your own body language and how you are responding to the situation. Are you closing your fists? clenching your jaw? crossing your arms in discussion? Checking in on your self in these moments can help to correct any unconscious behaviours that could come across negatively to your receivers. Being more in tune with your body in these moments can also help you to identify further what triggers you and why.
One phrase that I have found incredibly helpful in these moments are “is there anything I can do to differently?” Not only does this disarm the situation, but it introduces vulnerability and humility into the picture, allowing for all parties to grow.
- Listen: Being physically self aware is one way of listening, but it’s also incredibly vital to shift your ears to the team around you. Again, hone in on what is expected of your performance and ask for that feedback. Use every opportunity of feedback as another step to improving yourself. Listen, note it down, reflect, and return to it to discuss your own feelings around the challenges. Do you have the resources/capabilities to complete the task? Always ensure that you’re set up for success!
- Hold yourself accountable: Following my previous point, hold yourself accountable for the balls that you’ve dropped or the mistakes you’ve made. Accountability is not a blame game, but within a professional setting, it can make or break the trust within a team. This can be incredibly problematic for the business and the team. You want to ensure that you address every mistake you make sharply, then proceed with a solution or framework to guarantee that it will not happen again. This will help to build trust, allows learning, and can improve your overall performance, especially as it becomes a habit. If you have issues with saying sorry in general, well, this tip is especially for you! It’ll transform every part of your life, trust me!
- Take a partner: Connect with someone you trust to help keep you in check! Whether it be a goal to give feedback twice a day, or to make sure you’re checking your work twice, having an ally that has the same intentions of self improvement, can increase productivity and momentum to complete tasks efficiently.
- REFLECTION: Habits such as journalling, note making throughout the day, and reflecting at the end of your work day can serve as type of self-care as well as a self development aid. It allows you to create your own timeline of events to reflect on, that subsequently can help you to identify patterns of wins and opportunities
As you end your work day, take a breather to reflect on how the day has been for you. Ask yourself the following questions: did I show up as my best self today? if I did, how? if I did not, how, and how can I do better next time? Did I complete all given tasks today? Did I give or receive feedback from my colleagues?
Here are a few apps that are geared to help increase accountability through building healthier habits:
This app is “action” orientated. It task based, described as the “ultimate task organiser”. If you’re like me and need reminders to perform certain habits everyday, this list generator is definitely for you!
A goal and habit tracker. Strides gives you a calendar view of what your habit patterns look like, with the ability to add notes. You can also create targets, averages and create goals based on SMART acronym. STRIDES has especially helped me in identifying patterns for when I fall short or am on a roll!
Toggl is a time tracking software. If you’re looking for something to help you keep track of how you spend your time, and avoid procrastination, Toggl is the one. You measure each task by checking in and out from start to finish. It allows you to account for how your time is spending by generating easy to read reports.
My favourite app to journal on is called “Day One”. It’s a great tool for journalling your thoughts and feelings, whilst be able to attach personalised media to really make it your own.
Suhanya is a Workforce Analyst within the technology sector and is passionate about inclusion and diversity as well as changing the way professionals work together!
You can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
References and further reading:
- Minda Harts, “Secure your Seat podcast” (https://mindaharts.com/
podcast/), mindaharts.com. Podcast for women of colour wanting to secure their seat at the table. Minda is also the author of the best selling book “the Memo”.
- Awesome At Your Job, “How to be awesome at your job” (https://awesomeatyourjob.com/
podcast/), Pete Mockaitis, awesomeatyourjob.com. Pete Mockaitis interviews CEO’s and leaders to discuss various leadership concepts and competencies.
- Togl, “How to Increase Accountability in the Workplace” (https://toggl.com/blog/how-to-increase-accountability-in-the-workplace), Kat Boogard, toggl.com.
- Harvard Business Review, “Does Your Team Have an Accountability Problem?” (https://hbr.org/2020/02/does-your-team-have-an-accountability-problem), Melissa Raffoni, February 10, 2020, hbr.org.
- Forbes, “Personal Accountability And The Pursuit Of Workplace Happiness ” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/cywakeman/2015/10/26/personal-accountability-and-the-pursuit-of-workplace-happiness/#4804c89f1ca2), Cy Wakeman, October 26, 2015, forbes.com.
- tick those boxes, “What is accountability in the workplace?” (https://tickthoseboxes.com.au/what-is-accountability-in-the-workplace/), Darrem Finkelstein, tickthoseboxes.com.au.
All images used in this article are royalty free.