July 11, 2023

Lack of Accountability? 3 Signs this Could Be an Issue

Organizational Effectiveness

Accountability and empowerment are critical components of an effective, productive culture. Consider these  three signs of low accountability, or no accountability, that are often overlooked by leaders:

1. Employees are more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing their jobs.

The difference may appear minor, but the impact is anything but. When an employee’s main motivation centers on not getting fired, their work is more desperate and less thoughtful. Their focus is now on not making mistakes, instead of taking calculated risks to make improvements, and they are doing only things they deem safe. Collaboration and innovation are no longer areas of concern for these employees.

Evidence of the symptoms include: a lack of new ideas from employees, increased finger pointing and blame among team members, and dissolution of any social aspects of the job. Employees will pull away from each other and even develop an “us vs them” mentality.


2. Gossip is used as a form of communication, particularly in leadership.

Gossip in the workplace is a common problem, but when it is considered as a means of communicating work-related information, you’re now working in a dysfunctional environment that lacks accountability. When management is telling team members, “Accounting is purposely being slow to process Jane’s compensation report because she does not support their new software choice,” it is clearly a red flag.

According to a  study by Office Pulse, 29% of respondents say office gossip is their primary source of company information.

Management should not use gossip as a way to communicate other departments’ and managers’ affairs. Using gossip to spread distrust amongst the company is a sure sign that you have accountability problems in your organization.


3. Culture demands that everyone is treated the same to be fair.

Equal and fair treatment are not the same. What you want is equity, not equality. When a workplace culture attempts to treat everyone the same, in the name of fairness, it is often a symptom of a management team that avoids dealing with accountability.

Undervalued employees will demand equal treatment when they see other employees receiving advantages that they do not believe were earned fairly—especially when they are expected to change behavior based on a handful of people who’ve broken company trust, instead of being held accountable for their actions.

People are not all the same, they have different performance levels, styles of work, motivations, and personal goals. When individual employees are held accountable, there is less demand for equal treatment because they know they are receiving fair treatment. 


Aspirant’s Organizational Effectiveness team can help you develop a culture of accountability. We designed our Org AcceleratorTM program to determine the current strengths and weaknesses of your organization and determine where you need to go. Fill out the form below to get started.


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Judy partners with executives and leadership teams to engage and inspire employees in a way that delivers sustainable strategic results. She brings deep expertise and creative ideas to solve organizational effectiveness issues and closely collaborates in a way that builds internal capabilities. Judy has spent over 25 years consulting in a variety of industries, bringing her expertise in behavior to a wide range of organizational issues including organizational behavior change, leadership, change management, culture and engagement.

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