What is Accountability?

Definition: Accountability is the action of being held responsible for the results obtained after performing a given activity. It is a situation where what is being delivered is reviewed and evaluated.

What Does Accountability Mean in Business?

In a business context, accountability is essential to keep work relationships transparent and productive. It basically means that an employee’s activities should be reviewed from time to time to provide some feedback to him, so he can work more effectively. Accountability also aims to avoid negligence and wrong doings in the workplace. Employees should be held accountable for what they do, to the extent that they were conscious of what they were doing.

An employee’s accountability is closely related with their work duties. An employee can be held accountable for anything they do within the parameters of what they were hired for.

That means a company can’t hold an individual accountable for doing something they were not supposed to be doing. Accountability becomes more important for senior management staff, since the impact of their decisions is higher. This means that top executive activities should be more thoroughly reviewed in order to avoid misconducts and undesired consequences from wrong decisions.

Example

Mr. Smith is a Certified Public Accountant. He works independently for a handful of private businesses providing bookkeeping services and tax advice. He has a 4-people team to help him carry the load of work that comes into the office daily.

These team members manage different clients and they mostly do the bookkeeping tasks while Mr. Smith focuses on more complex accounting matters. He conducts a staff meeting each Monday to get updates about the current situation of each client and in this meeting team members have to present a weekly report of what they’ve done during the last week and what are the most pressing matters to be addressed with each client.

Mr. Smith also has a weekly call with each of the office’s clients to corroborate the information the team is giving him. By doing this, Mr. Smith keeps his team accountable for all activities they are engaged in, allowing him to maintain a transparent work environment.