How To Build Credibility with Your Employees

It’s easy to assume that you’re an accountable person, but small lapses can impact the way others see you and your business.

Little behaviors, while easily ignored, can have a dramatically adverse effect on employee morale. In turn, a lack of accountability among you and your top-level managers can result in a lack of accountability among crew leaders and the crews themselves. If you're interested in growing your business, you cannot allow this culture of unaccountability to take over your business.

Two experts in this area, Julie Miller and Brian Bedford, offer the following "accountability killers" to avoid when managing employees.

Showing up late. Sure, there are legitimate reasons why even the most responsible person might be running late. But if it happens again and again, you’ve got a problem. If tardiness is a habit—if others expect it from you rather than being surprised by it—you’re not being accountable.

Saying you’ll do it, but then not doing it. Again, sometimes “life” happens. But if you find yourself constantly making excuses, asking for more time, or expecting others to understand why you “just didn’t get around to it,” it’s time to make a change. Either start pushing yourself harder or stop making promises you can’t keep.

Being offended by the truth. When someone calls you out—for dropping the ball, for behaving badly, etc.—how do you react? If you’re indignant or offended instead of accepting that the other person has made a valid observation, you’ve just killed your accountability.

Covering up mistakes. The fact that others don’t know about a slip-up doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. If nothing else, your accountability will suffer in your own eyes. You also run the risk of setting a bad precedent for yourself. The next time something comes up, you’ll think to hide it the same as you did before. Do this enough times and the tendency to cover up becomes a habit.

Blaming others. The so-called “blame game” is one in which nobody wins. Even if the fault lies with someone else, part of being an accountable person means doing your best to offer solutions in addition to pointing out problems. And if the blame does lie with you, it’s dishonest and reprehensible to attempt to shift it to someone else. Always own up to your mistakes.

Ignoring the bad behavior of others. Ignoring someone else’s bad behavior is just as bad as committing the act yourself. When people see you ignoring these problems—especially when you’re in a position to do something about them—they think you’re approving the bad behavior.

Failing to take or give feedback. When you can’t or won’t take feedback, you communicate to others that you aren’t interested in improving your performance. There are also accountability implications associated with being unwilling to give feedback, as that shows you’re concerned with only your piece of the puzzle instead of the big picture. Be clear with staff about your level of happiness with their performance and welcome any feedback they give you about yours.

Being a victim instead of a solution finder. Sometimes the bad things that happen to you really aren’t your fault. The way you choose to handle these situations can still affect your accountability in the eyes of your team. Do what you can to find a solution and move forward. Let others see that you’re willing to take responsibility, even when a problem wasn’t your fault.

Julie Miller and Brian Bedford joined forces to establish MillerBedford Executive Solutions in 2001. MillerBedford helps businesses and organizations improve strategy, culture and leadership, while addressing issues that limit success. For more information, visit