How to encourage accountability

Irresponsible employees can be a drain on colleagues and the company but they’re not necessarily a lost cause, argues one expert.

Employees who have little accountability can be a drain on both their company and co-workers but – according to one industry expert – employers have the ability to turn things around.

Renowned leadership coach Lee Ellis says there’s a reliable “Four Cs” system which employers can follow if they want to instil a sense of responsibility in their workforce.

Here, he explained the steps to HRM.


“First of all, the leader has to clarify what the expectations are,” says retired US Air Force Colonel Ellis – now an award-winning author and founder of Leadership Freedom.

“That goes all the way from 100,000 feet at mission, vision and values, down to 50,000 feet where it’s the standards of the profession, down to 15,000 feet where it could be a local policy in your organization and finally down to 5,000 feet which could be the exact details of a project that you’re working on.”

Ellis – who recently penned ‘Engage with Honor: Building a Culture of Courageous Accountability’ – says employees have a right to know exactly what’s expected of them and it’s an employer’s duty to make sure that happens.

“You have to have that conversation with the person so they really understand what’s expected,” he stressed.


“The next step is connecting with the person so that they know that they’re valued and important,” says Ellis.

“You have to connect with people based on their own unique differences, their own talents, their own personality but you also have to connect at the heart value,” he told HRM.

“Every human being wants feel valued, to feel important, to feel heard, to feel known and seen – those are our deepest, deepest desires – to be known and to be valued and important and have purpose,” he explained.

“So as a leader when you connect with a person and they know that you believe in them, that you’re counting on them, that you think they’re very valuable, they’re much more likely to do everything they can to keep their commitments and come through.”


“In today’s world, in the information age, we need so much more collaboration because the leader doesn’t have all the information anymore – other people know more than the leader does about what’s going on so the leader has to be listening and collaborating, coaching their people,” Ellis told HRM.

“Millennials love to be coached – sometimes training them, sometimes correcting them back early on, helping them to get back on course, listening to them, giving them feedback, that’s all tied up in collaboration,” he continued.

Close and celebrate

“If you do those steps then the fourth step is to close it out and if you do those first three well, most every time you’re going to be celebrating and that’s what we want,” says Ellis. “We want to celebrate victories and celebrate good performance and start that process over.”

However, if the “C-system” hasn’t lead to success, Ellis says there’s one more step for employers to follow.


“When it doesn’t turn out well, then you confront with heavy duty confrontation of; ’Okay, we’ve got to address the problem here,” he told HRM.

“Is it one of energy and effort, is it a problem of the person just didn’t have the talent to do the job – sometimes they’re in a mismatch at work – or is it a problem of behaviour? They have behaviours that are just unacceptable in the workplace and you have to confront that.

“If you follow those fairly intentionally, work through those, most people are going to be successful and they won’t even think of it as being accountable because you actually have worked with them in a way that you helped them be successful so the accountability comes by celebrating,” he added.

Recent stories:

Doctor’s dismissal for prescription misconduct justified, says ERA 

Finding the right fit for leadership

Global Cover fined for dismissing ‘shareholder’

Recent articles & video

Worker 'smuggles' unauthorised devices in 'high-security' workplace

Compliance order issued: Employer to pay almost $30,000 for unjustified dismissal

Decline in job ads 'accelerated' in June: SEEK NZ

Government moves to stop contractors challenging employment status

Most Read Articles

Immigration NZ employees put on leave after inappropriate conversation on Teams: reports

PwC wins against disgruntled accountant who wanted to nullify settlement

The Warehouse Group to lay off head office employees: report