How To Keep Staff Accountable Without Being A Control Freak

Posted on Apr 22, 2020
By Kerry Anne Nelson
3 min read
Workplace Systems consultant
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As the leader of the workplace, you need to set expectations and hold your team members accountable for results. It is truly hard work requiring focus and clarity. It’s not so comfortable with difficult people, but accountability is an essential leadership skill.

The reality is that in our companies, the idea of accountability can make or break our cultures and will certainly have a massive role to play in terms of our management approaches and the way that we’re achieving output in our businesses.

Workplace Systems consultant

“You get a culture of entrepreneurship after you have successfully changed the accountability system so that people can use a better process. The process drives culture, not the other way around, so you can’t just change the culture, you have to change the system.” Eric Reis

In this article, we discuss some of the different meanings of accountability to different people and what it should mean to your staff  to maintain a healthy and thriving workplace:


For some, the word accountability stands for the idea of power. This looks like control freak type bosses that are micromanaging this staff and that there’s a high level of surveillance. It looks like people are being controlled in possibly fear or intimidation and it certainly does not look like rapport building or relationship. In this sort of situation, there is no questioning, there’s no answering back. This certainly has a role to play in defence forces or highly regimented workplaces, but it may not be exactly the best way to develop innovation and creativity in your team.


For others, the idea of accountability equals control. It looks like checking in on every single step that’s being done as it’s being done from the manager there down through to their staff members. So in this sort of situation, there’s no room for creativity. There’s no room for free thought. Everything is controlled down to the last minute and certainly, it can create a bit of a stifling culture in that company.


For me, how I love to see the idea of accountability being rolled out in teams is with the idea of it being supported. Where the idea of accountability looks like the team members getting support and that they’re set up for wins in their regular work. They know how to do their work well and they are rewarded when it gets done. If they need help, if they need to ask questions, they can come freely to their supervisors or their managers and get that, because the managers are just as much accountable to the employees as the other way around. This also means that the employees can be liberated to their versions of creativity and innovation in the company.

So when you’re thinking about implementing accountability measures in your company, think about it in such a way that you’re offering a nurturing, rapport building type of culture in your company and the approach you’re taking is a positive one. Through this spirit, you’ll find such dedication from your team in terms of building the business and you’ll see them being very invested in the future because they don’t feel controlled, they don’t feel overpowered. They feel supported and nurtured.

Kerry Anne Nelson

About Kerry Anne Nelson

Kerry Anne Nelson is the founder of Operation Verve and is a qualified first-class Honours graduate with more than 8 years of experience in education.

Kerry Anne Nelson is a workplace processes architect and uses her Lean Six Sigma training to maximise her years of experience in business management, education, and team leadership to help clients achieve lasting business growth.