10 Examples of Holding People Accountable

Examples of Holding Someone Accountable

Holding people accountable is a critical part of being a manager. If you get people accountable, they will take advantage of you and your team. It can be extremely frustrating when someone drags the rest of the team down. So, what can you do about it? Telling someone they did something wrong or they are not meeting expectations is never easy. But if you don’t, people will not take responsibility for their work and behaviors.

What does it mean to hold someone accountable?

In most cases, when you hold someone accountable, you ask them to be responsible for specific actions and fulfill their commitments. You communicate what you need from them and make sure they understand what will happen if they don’t meet your expectations.

You are also telling them that you believe they can meet your expectations. Ultimately, it is about creating a culture where everyone is responsible for their actions and holds themselves and each other accountable.

Why is it important to hold others accountable?

It is essential to hold others accountable in the workplace because it creates an atmosphere of trust and respect. Holding people accountable ensures that everyone behaves consistently with the company’s values and goals.

Additionally, when people know that they will be held accountable for their actions, they will be more mindful and deliberate in their work.

Finally, accountability creates a sense of responsibility and ownership among team members, which can help foster a stronger team dynamic. This can lead to more productive and cohesive workplace culture.

What happens when there is no accountability?

Without accountability, people are more likely to act negligently or selfishly. When there is no one to answer to, some people may not take care of their responsibilities or follow through with their commitments. This can lead to problems in both personal and professional relationships.

In the workplace, for example, a lack of accountability can make employees not do their duties as required, and this causes a decrease in productivity.

In personal relationships, it can breed mistrust and resentment. Ultimately, a lack of accountability can have negative consequences for everyone involved.

How to get someone to take accountability

There are times when holding someone accountable is not more challenging than other times. Still, some general guidelines can help make the process smoother: Here are 10 examples of holding someone accountable:

1. Give clear instructions

Always make your instructions clear and specific. Giving unclear instructions will cause people to interpret them differently than intended, and it can cause problems later down the line.

People often fail to meet expectations because there were no clear instructions from their boss in the first place.

Be specific about the action you want them to take, and make sure you understand what it will take for them to meet your expectations.

Your employees should know what you expect of them, so they don’t spend time guessing if they are doing something right or wrong.

2. Understand your workplace policies and procedures

You will have challenges holding people accountable for things not included in your workplace policies and their job description.

So, first make sure you understand the company policy well before holding someone accountable when they violate those boundaries.

For example, if it is company policy not to make personal calls on the job, you need to know wether your employees violated that policy before them accountable when they do. Make sure everyone understands what is and is not acceptable behavior in your company.

Read more: 11 Good Examples of Showing Initiative at Work

3. Express your concerns

One of the most common complaints in the workplace is “My boss never tells me when I screw up.” Telling someone their work isn’t good enough is uncomfortable, but it’s necessary if you want them to improve.

When you have a problem with someone’s performance, the worst thing you can do is pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t improve performance and always gets worse — often in unexpected ways.

Call the person into your office and tell them that you appreciate their contributions but that you have noticed some poor performance issues and want to give them a chance to explain what is happening before deciding on a course of action.

Don’t make the person feel stupid or try to embarrass them. And listen to what they have to say with an open mind so you can determine whether or not your concerns are justified. Then follow up regularly with this employee until they improve or are terminated — whichever comes first.

4. Be direct

Start with the facts. You will need specific examples to back up your claim and focus on actions instead of personality characterizations.

Don’t be overly emotional or make accusations. Simply state the facts of the situation, including how it affected you or others.

While you might want to scream at the person when they miss a deadline or fail to complete a task, this doesn’t help the situation in any way.

Calling out someone on their bad behavior in front of coworkers makes the issue more dramatic than it needs to be and creates gossip that can create a toxic work environment for everyone.

Avoid using sarcasm — it’s hard for others to tell when you are sarcastic, which means you are probably not conveying your intended meaning.

Any unprofessional reaction from you will likely be counterproductive. Instead, control your emotions and discuss how you would like whatever issue it is to stop immediately. Then have the person outline the steps they will be taking to ensure this doesn’t continue happening.

5. Avoid making vague comments

Avoid making vague comments like “That was not good enough” or “You are not hitting the numbers.” Such statements send a negative message and allow the employee to make excuses for their poor performance.

Also, saying things like “I didn’t like it” without further explanation leaves the person you are talking to clueless about what they could do differently next time.

It is also less effective because it does not hold people accountable for their actions. Instead, point out a specific issue that you want to improve.

Provide clear and actionable feedback to allow the recipient to understand what they can work on to improve their performance in the future.

For example, you might say something like “I didn’t like the way you handled that situation — next time, try this or that.” This gives the person a specific task to focus on and adjust accordingly.

6. Don’t play favoritism

When someone underperforms, don’t hold back because of your relationship! Though it may be uncomfortable, holding back because of your relationship with the person will not do either of you any good.

If you care about the person, treat them just like anyone else who reports to you. There is no getting around it — if you play favoritism will only make the situation worse in the long run.

When someone is underperforming, it reflects poorly on everyone and can hold back the entire team from reaching its goals.

So, always have a candid conversation with the person and identify areas that need improvement. Offer help and resources if necessary, but let them know that poor performance is unacceptable.

Read also: 16 Examples of a Good Mentor

7. Focus on all behaviors

Good examples of holding someone accountable include watching their behaviors, both positive and negative. Don’t just focus on the negatives and ignore what the person is doing right. This will help you figure out what people are doing well and where they might have room to improve.

Now when talking about the behaviors the person displays, be measured with what you say. You can criticize someone. That is what helps people improve. But some criticism is not helpful and might cause harm to someone instead of improving them.

Constructive criticism focuses on the person’s performance and can be delivered in a caring manner. On the other hand, destructive criticism is all about being critical of the person, not their actions or performance.

It is not acceptable to intentionally demean someone. That is why you must avoid making wounding statements when critiquing someone.

Constructive criticism is essential to helping your employees grow and improve their performance, whereas destructive criticism can hurt employees, damage their morale and productivity.

8. Check on the person daily

Telling someone you are monitoring their progress can be an effective way to make them more responsible. But this only works if you are looking at what they are doing and following up with them.

Regular check-in is an effective way of keeping the finger on the pulse of progress and whether someone gets things done on time or not. You create a system of checks and balances that makes it easier to track progress and identify issues.

This helps improve accountability because it allows your employee to focus on the most crucial tasks and goals. If someone is falling behind, you will know about it sooner and address it immediately.

Also, nothing will change if people don’t know what they are doing wrong or right — they will do their best to guess. If they are aware that you are paying attention, they will be more likely to change their behavior accordingly.

So, check in with the person frequently so that they know you have not forgotten about them. This will make them feel more accountable for their performance.

Read more: 15 Examples of Taking Ownership

9. Ask questions persistently

The first step in holding people accountable is to ask questions. Ask like, “when can I expect to see that report on my desk?” Or “I need this document by noon. Do you think you can get it to me before then?”

If someone promises you that they will get back to you with an answer or progress, don’t relax and remain hopeful. Say something like, “Great! I’d appreciate it if you could get back to me with an answer by the end of the day.” And make sure it happens. Of course, you need not come off as overly pushy or annoying.

Being persistent prevents them from making promises they don’t keep and allows you to catch any problems early before they snowball into more issues.

10. Create some tangible consequences 

Firing people can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager. While it’s easy to say “just let them go,” the reality is that firing someone is a major life event for them.

But some employees might not be the best fit for your team. You don’t want to keep people who don’t fit your plans. One of the reasons teamwork fails is that managers tend to keep people around who are not adding value in some way, shape, or form.

They are either resistant to change or have no passion for what they do. When that happens, it kills the enthusiasm and productivity of everyone else in the team. Get rid of those people as quickly as possible so you can move forward with productive people.


Holding someone accountable in the workplace is essential to maintaining a productive and effective work environment. When people know they will be held responsible for their actions, they will behave in a way that meets your expectations.

Moreover, as a manager, holding people accountable allows you to identify and correct potential problems before they become serious. Ultimately, accountability is essential for maintaining a healthy and successful workplace.

How do you hold someone accountable for their actions? Leave your comment in the box below

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