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Effective management of team member accountability

Article By Adam Hurwood | | Business Consulting

The importance of team member accountability in creating a positive workplace culture.

Imagine there is this one person on your team – they don’t follow team processes; they don’t work or listen to instruction. Perhaps their attitude isn’t the best. What are you going to do about this situation? Do you let the behaviour slide to keep the peace? Or to avoid conflict or because you simply don’t have the energy to deal with it? What may only be a small, infrequent issue now, will almost always grow into larger indiscretions. This will then affect wider team culture and performance.

Recently, a lack of action in this area by a business owner and their manager, resulted in a hit to their productivity. It became obvious within the team as the indiscretions by the person escalated. Other team members saw the behaviour and thought “Why are they getting away with it? That’s not fair.”

In this situation, there was an inequality in team management, and it had led to a companywide, cultural issue. What had started out only related to the performance of one person, had become a much larger management problem.

The owner of the business acknowledged they had known about the person’s behaviour for some time. They had done nothing about it. The manager, followed the owner as they weren’t given the responsibility, in their mind, to deal with it.

The lesson is to deal with any issue that is not professionally, culturally or ethically up to the expectations you want in your business as soon as possible. No action in the eyes of your team IS an action. It is an action of acceptance of lower standards. Team members will invariably learn to work towards this as THE expectation.

We would recommend some basic principles in this kind of situation:


  • Your best to communicate assertively with the individual compassionately to uncover any underlying issues that may be causing the behaviour.
  • Give specific, measurable, feedback and work toward change.
  • Set the bar on your expectations of them in their role and hold them accountable.


  • Let the issue become distracting for yourself and your team from the greater objectives and goals of the company.
  • Gossip about the situation with team members. Ensure you only speak about the issue when it is brought up and provide helpful suggestions.
  • Fire the person without documenting their behaviour, its impact, and your responses.

Circumstances like these can be difficult for a businessowner to manage all the time. Despite this, a cohesive and accountable team culture improves the work environment and the productivity of your team. There are tools and processes that can be put in place to assist you build accountability into your workplace.