6 Steps to Improving Team Accountability at Work
Project Management

6 Steps to Improving Team Accountability at Work

Feb 13, 2024

Fostering teamwork and team spirit is an important part of being a good manager — but even high-performing teams can run into accountability issues from time to time. Team accountability is about more than having good ideas. It’s about having the tools, skills, relationships, and resources to see them through to completion.

Finding ways to develop personal and team accountability can help to boost employee engagement and improve productivity in the workplace. Here’s why it’s so important to have accountable teams and how you can build accountability directly into your task management systems and processes.

What Is Team Accountability?

Team accountability: man driving a car while talking to a woman

Team accountability is the ability of your entire team to honor your commitments and get things done. It differs from team collaboration, which refers to how well your team works together, and team productivity or efficiency, which refers to how much work your team members can get done in a particular time frame.

A lack of accountability can lead to missed milestones, poor performance, or unequal workloads that result in your whole team feeling understaffed and overworked.

Individual vs. collective responsibility

Team accountability takes place at two different levels: the individual and the collective. On the one hand, individual team members need to hone their own self-management skills in order to complete their responsibilities on time and avoid burnout.

At the same time, the entire team needs to take responsibility for team success. If one team member is falling behind, the rest of the team needs to pick up the slack or offer the team member the support they need to get back on track.

Team leaders can encourage personal accountability with a culture of ownership, in which roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

Benefits of Team Accountability

Team accountability: woman saying, your success is my success

Developing a culture of accountability and ownership can result in a more productive, positive workplace overall. There’s less need for one-on-one micromanagement, and team members can work together to solve problems and make decisions.

Here are four benefits of team accountability for any workplace.

Increases productivity

When team members are only responsible for themselves and are held accountable by a single manager, it’s easy for tasks to fall by the wayside or for different aspects of a project to move forward at a different pace.

Team accountability increases productivity by reducing bottlenecks and ensuring that everyone is keeping up. Team members can feel confident moving forward on tasks, because they know that their colleagues will follow through on their responsibilities, minimizing the impact of delays and dependencies.

Improves transparency

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at work, then you know how easy it is to blame other people: Someone else isn’t doing their fair share, or your manager is delegating more work to you than to anyone else on the team.

A culture of accountability addresses this issue by giving everyone visibility into what other team members are working on. Team members can re-assign tasks amongst themselves, and managers can monitor workloads in real-time to ensure no one is taking on more work than they can handle.

Encourages collaboration

Team accountability encourages collaboration by giving everyone a collective stake in a project’s outcome, rather than only holding them responsible for individual project goals. This is especially important for remote teams, since remote employees may have fewer opportunities to collaborate in person or in real-time.

Remote collaboration tools facilitate communication between team members and other stakeholders, while keeping a record of all discussions to ensure follow-through.

Supports personal development

Finally, a culture of accountability supports a healthy work-life balance and contributes to psychological safety at work, because team members know they can give each other constructive feedback and turn to each other for support. A missed deadline or mistake isn’t an individual failing, but an opportunity for personal or professional growth.

Team leaders who set clear expectations and provide appropriate support empower employees to take the initiative and achieve their own career goals.

6 Steps to Improving Team Accountability at Work

Team accountability: team talking to each other

For some teams, accountability comes easily. But in some workplaces, it can clash with a culture of competitiveness and a sense that everyone’s in it for themselves. Here are 6 steps to introducing a culture of accountability in your workplace.

1. Set clear team goals

First, set clear goals and expectations. If you’re just starting a new project, schedule a project kickoff meeting to get everyone on the same page. Be sure to explain how the project’s goals align with your organizational goals and your company culture.

Use team-building exercises and other fun team meeting ideas to build camaraderie and keep your team engaged. If you’re working remotely, create an effective remote work policy so team members know when they’re expected to be available.

2. Choose the right tools

Next, choose the right work organization tools to streamline team management and communication. This could range from messaging platforms like Slack to scheduling software like Calendly to video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.

You may also want to use task management software to help you delegate and prioritize tasks and track progress over time. When you use an AI task manager like Anchor AI, you can automate key parts of the process, and use integrations to connect your task management software to the tools you’re already using.

3. Delegate tasks wisely

Delegating tasks may sound easy, but determining who to assign each task to and how to balance your team’s workload can be a challenge. Even though your entire team has a role to play in ensuring things get done, it isn’t a free-for-all: Each task needs to have a single owner who’s responsible for seeing it through to completion.

When you use Anchor AI to capture actionable items in a meeting, Max, your AI project manager, will attach an assignee and due date to each one so you don’t have to do it yourself. Max can even summarize them for you in a follow-up email afterwards.

4. Run meetings efficiently

Meetings can be a great opportunity to promote team accountability, but they can also lead to meeting overload if they happen too frequently. Stick to meetings that truly foster team accountability, such as a daily scrum meeting, and avoid meetings that don’t have a clear purpose or that could be handled on a different communication channel.

Keep each meeting short and concise by using a meeting agenda template to facilitate it. If you don’t have time to create one of your own, use Anchor AI’s Quick Prep tool to generate one automatically based on the notes from your previous meeting. 

5. Measure results

Team accountability isn’t just a gut feeling, but something you can measure using key performance indicators (KPIs). Your KPIs could be directly related to your project, such as your task completion rate, or associated metrics such as your company’s customer satisfaction scores or organizational efficiency.

You can use these metrics to assess the performance of individual team members, or  identify ways to automate tasks and streamline your workflows overall.

6. Check in often

Finally, maintaining a culture of accountability means checking in regularly to provide support and offer constructive feedback. In some cases, you may need to re-assign struggling employees or put them on a performance improvement plan.

Don’t wait until something goes wrong to follow up: even when things are going well, send follow-up emails after every meeting to reinforce key takeaways and make sure that all of your team members have the resources they need to move forward.

Anchor AI can help you keep everyone on the same page creating a helpful meeting summary with action items after every meeting. Use the Topical Summary feature to organize your notes by topic so they’re easy for stakeholders to digest.

Improve Team Accountability With Anchor AI

Hockey team chanting quack! Quack!

Team accountability involves working together to collaborate on tasks, meet deadlines, and achieve results. A culture of accountability rewards high-performing employees by giving them a sense of ownership over their work, while providing all team members with the support and encouragement they need to get things done.

Use project management AI to support team accountability by applying the power of AI to task and project management. Sign up for Anchor AI so you can delegate tasks, run team meetings, and track action items all using the same cloud-based software. Try it out for free today and upgrade for more features!

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