Organizations embracing positive accountability have a culture of people that hold themselves accountable for the ultimate results of the organization. It’s not hard to see that the prevailing notions of accountability need to be fixed—we need something more positively defined as “a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.” When you shift mindsets and thought processes this way, you’ll begin to see and feel traction in yourself and in others. As the pioneers of Accountability Training®, we often get questions around the differences between these two words and how they tie to the achievement of results. Those who are responsible for a task are always members of the teams managed by those accountable. Hence, it includes the powers to assign duties to the subordinates and make them accept and follow it. Adversely, if he does a great job, he can claim responsibility for a job well done. Accountability means assuming consequences for performance and behaviors of those who are assigned responsibility for the task. Why Establishing The Difference BTW Accountability and Responsibility Important? If the child fails to d… If the garden is overrun with weeds, he has no one to answer to but himself for the consequences. Copyright © 2020 Partners In Leadership, All Rights Reserved. Accountability means there are consequences and that everyone understands and owns these consequences. In any work place, management, responsibility, and accountability are indispensable terms. Accountability training for managers. They’re only two workers among many on an assembly line boxing chocolates. It is chosen. We’ll also give you some real-world scenarios demonstrating both these concepts and why they matter. Responsibility is the duty to complete work. Similarly, the title of manager or supervisor doesn’t automatically infer accountability for everyone and everything in the organization, nor should it. Does that mean the person responsible is now also accountable for the results? Accountability for a task can be passed down the chain to whomever is most appropriate and capable to assume that role. Think about what you can do better and where you can help others. Authority is nothing but the rights or the powers with the executives which the organization provides them with the aim of accomplishment of certain common organizational goals. By contrast, responsibility is more values driven, coming from within. As in any branch or division of a business unit one needs to have a clear notion on the accountability and responsibility within the project management domain too. !” and “Which department is accountable for not delivering our goals?” begin to get thrown around. You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters. While the words responsibility and accountability are often used interchangeably, we believe there is an important and fundamental difference between the two—a night and day difference—and that currently adopted definitions for accountability are wrong. The project managers must be well aware of their responsibilities and the accountability towards the project whether it … Adversely, if they do well, they take responsibility for a job well done. Accountability is also a management process that ensures employees answer to their superior for their actions and that supervisors behave responsibly as well. Ben and Angela are responsible for the task in an ongoing fashion until it is complete. Not responding to unacceptable performance unfortunately increases the likelihood that it will occur again. However, we hope our article has helped you to explore the topic, or better yet, has stimulated some productive conversation about it among you and your co-workers. We appreciate the definitions and respect the notion of being responsible and the need for it, but we know from decades of experience that accountability is something truly empowering, not something consequential (“subject to; answerable”). Accountability vs Responsibility. A person will be accountable only when he has been assigned any task or responsibility by the person who commands authority over him. Adopt the right mindset and step up to these traits and you’ll quickly realize that accountability is not assigned, not put upon, not, at times, so exactly defined that it creates silos, finger pointing, and the blame game. 4 Everyday Examples of Responsibility and Accountability. Organizations often try to solve these problems by redefining. In other words, one who is accountable must complete something. It’s not until we demonstrate the way we address accountability that they begin to see that accountability, not responsibility, plays a major role in overcoming almost every challenge they face. Students in a college course receive a curriculum from their professor for the year. Accountability and responsibility allows people to exercise autonomy with the expectation that they will feel more invested in and, therefore, will perform better, more efficiently and more creatively. Establish clear organizational hierarchies. Lucy takes the responsibility for wrapping the chocolates and Ethel is responsible for putting them in the box. Accountability, to learn more about the subtle, but crucial, differences between responsibility and accountability. With other companies, feedback only occurs when things go wrong, and, in the worst cases, not at all. Managers and supervisors are not accountable for everything in their organization. Certainly, they both accept the responsibilities designated for their roles at the factory… But if fewer chocolates are boxed that day than expected, neither will suffer accountability for it. Performance management is critical. Accountability vs Responsibility Accountability is the duty to govern or manage. Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended Have feedback sessions in the form of reviews. While the differences between accountability and responsibility apply to all kinds of life scenarios, for now, we’ll look at those applicable to a workplace setting. Meaning: Responsibility refers to an obligation to do something. To do this, we first help them understand that the definition of accountability is broken and must be fixed to be truly grasped. Let’s compare and contrast accountability and responsibility in the workplace: Contained within our interpretation of accountability vs responsibility perhaps lies two assumptions: The problem with these assumptions is the potential for gaps and confusion with regard to who exactly should be held accountable, and who should be held responsible, for the deliverables of a project. Make the … For example: “Ben and Angela were equally RESPONSIBLE for submitting the timeline to Susan, otherwise the project would be delayed.”. Authority and responsibility go side by side. We can’t manage performance without accountability. Do you have people who will step up and voluntarily take responsibility for a task or project? Some people assume there is little or no difference when it comes to accountability vs responsibility in project management, but there are notable differences. ADVERTISEMENTS: It is the duty of the subordinate to perform organisational tasks, functions or activities assigned to him. Hearing and saying the hard things to see reality, Learning from both successes and failures, Ensuring my work is aligned with Key Results, Constantly asking “What else can I (we) do?”, Collaborating across functional boundaries, Doing the things I (we) say I (we) will do, Tracking progress with proactive and transparent reporting. Responsibility is in the form of a continuing obligation. A free, powerful tool to analyze employees’ workload capabilities & availability to plan who is best suited for accountability, responsibility, and everywhere in between! Earlier we looked at how a responsible team or organization might function. And when it comes to feedback, many organizations rely solely on performance reviews to exchange feedback and it’s typically too late if and when the person receives the feedback. Are responsibility and accountability the same thing? On the other hand, accountability is something that can be specific to an individual depending on their skill set, role, or strengths. In other words, a person labeled as accountable for a task or project has to bear the consequences (good, bad, or neither) for any related decisions, actions, results, etc. Susan gives an account of the results after the task is completed. On the other hand, a parent could make a child accountable for looking after the plant. Responsibility can be assumed, received, or given… But that doesn’t mean that a role of accountability will be taken appropriately by someone else for the fruits behind that responsibility. Ready to take your team management to another level? Justifying the way you think and act in an effort to “cover your tail” pulls in the opposite direction of achieving results—often sapping time and resources to the detriment of others or the organization. The accountable individual has greater blame and … Accountability should be focused on the "Responsible" person whenever possible. This huge miss prevents employees from truly developing and inhibits their ability to get the right result. People think differently about the job that needs to get done. Read our eBook, Responsibility vs. But one who feels responsible truly believes that what they need to do is important. Siloed thinking and acting with reluctant behaviors around getting involved in things outside their control. It covers the topics they will need to know in order to pass or fail the class, as well as where to find the resources they need in addition to the class lectures. A person “takes” responsibility, either because it’s given by another or because they are motivated to do so on their own. Primary Differences: Responsibility can be delegated, accountability is a function of your position. Excerpt from Annotated Bibliography : Management Responsibility and Accountability Define Accountability and Responsibility The positions assumed by workers imply a responsibility to complete particular functions associated with those positions. The accountable actor is held to external oversight, regulation, and mechanisms of punis… To be clear, responsibility is essential in organizations. Accountability and responsibility in the workplace have become somewhat synonymous terms, even though they carry very distinct qualities. In this great video, Seth Godin talks about these phenomenological concepts and gives some stellar examples of…. For example: “Ultimately, Susan was ACCOUNTABLE for her team’s performance, and for submitting a report summarizing their productivity on the project to her boss.”. the fine line between how one can take responsibility without being assigned accountability; what it means to be given authority and held accountable in an organization. These are the informational points your team can use to define roles of responsibility and accountability and the details around them. Accountable The person or position accountable for a task is responsible for insuring that it is completed on-time and in a manner which meets all expectations for it. As you do, you’re sure to discover just what accountability can do for you and those around you. It’s with this version of accountability that people not only take accountability for the results they need to achieve individually but for results that they are not 100% in control of. ADVERTISEMENTS: Responsibility in Management: Definition and Features of Responsibility! 6/10/92OPR: Admin/Facilities and Management Services1. She also suffers any punishments or consequences as a result, and must manage the behaviors of her assembly workers to work faster. Did you catch that? Define roles and job descriptions with focus. When a work product or decision fails, both those who are accountable and responsible are to blame. Download a sneak preview of our newest book. More ownership. Those who assume accountability for a task are always involved in management, upper management, or something close to it. In a workplace culture where this positive and empowering version of accountability is embraced, you’ll find that: Why? Every person on a team may be responsible for a given task that is required to complete a massive project. Ben and Angela share responsibility for completing the task. Accountability in the workplace is all about setting and holding people to a common expectation by clearly defining the company’s mission, values, and goals. In the book the authors explore these 16 traits in detail with 240 proven practices from 120 executives. In short, that depends on the project, the abilities of team members to manage responsibility and accountability, and the motivation within the team. That’s when remarks and phrases like, “Who’s responsible for missing the deadline? Overview: Accountability vs Responsibility: Type: Management: Accountability Definition: The duty to answer for the success or failure of a strategy, process or task. Look them over and be honest with yourself on the ones you need to improve. Letting it die means that we will have failed in our responsibility and let ourselves down, but if it is healthy and flowers, we can claim responsibility. This is an important point. And, they must “account” for what happened. Authority, Responsibility and Accountability are Inter-related They need proper consideration while introducing delegation of authority within an Organisation. These two terms are technically different. But they are commonly used as interchangeable terms that both point toward who is to blame (or credit) for a specific outcome. People at all levels take ownership for the strategic results of the organization. “I thought you had it” mentalities where people ignore and deny one another’s ability to positively contribute. Responsibility is usually assigned and measured by the person assuming “accountability”. Download a sneak preview of our newest book, Fix It: Getting Accountability Right. For a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link. The difference between accountability and responsibility is somewhat foggy, which makes it challenging to hold your team accountable and/or responsible in their various duties in their role. No one is holding them accountable, if they fail the class, they suffer the consequences on their own. In the interest of fair comparison, the definition of responsibility is: Responsibility is a duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task (assigned by someone, or created by one’s own promise or circumstances) that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure. Definitions of accountability and responsibility are largely similar upon first glance, but worry not! If the assembly team, including Ethel and Lucy, boxes less chocolates than is expected, Hilda must submit the account to her supervisors of the details of why they fell short. The main difference between accountability and responsibility is that the accountability emphasizes the sole ownership of the actions and decisions regarding the task whereas responsibility is often the duty assigned to you by someone in a higher authority. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also ultimately being answerable for your actions. If that choice isn’t made, it’s possible to have responsibility for something or someone but still lack accountability. They can divide the tasks, and each can hold the other accountable for the completion of his or her tasks. Everhour offers real integration with your favorite tools. Susan alone is accountable for the results and communication of the completion of the task. Also, accountability is something you hold a person to only after a task is done In other words, it’s not always necessary for someone with a management title to be held accountable. This chapter prescribes policies, responsibilities, and procedures for the management of USGS personal property. If you’re still asking what’s the difference between accountability and responsibility, you’re in good company. Accountability is a choice. Now let’s say that Jane takes responsibility for planning the party and Tommy offers to share the responsibilities. Attitudes where people justify the ways they think and act to cover their tails. Responsible: “answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management.” While the words responsibility and accountability are often used interchangeably, we believe there is an important and fundamental difference between the two—a night and day difference—and that currently adopted definitions for accountability are wrong. Poor performance and development due to infrequent feedback exchanges. Are these words being used correctly? A leader is someone who directs others to achieve the best out of a certain task. Accountability addresses both the organization ‘s expectation of the employee and the employee’s expectation of the organization. Responsibility is often reliant upon individual behaviors for the successful completion of a task. By NICHOLAS C. HILL (FIC FinstLM) Accountability is not always an easy concept to practice. A person (or people) responsible for a task are those who actually work on, and complete the task. That’s where taking accountability comes into play. It’s a nuanced topic, and in some cases, can be open to interpretation. Rather than creating a proactive atmosphere of responsibility, this negative approach drives a reactive culture of “management by rules.” But there’s a better way. In the process of delegation, the superior transfers his duties/responsibilities to his subordinate and also give necessary authority for performing the responsibilities assigned. Meanwhile, the professor of the class is held accountable for the students’ performance by the school’s administration. Accountability is a management-control process. Accountability is what happens after a situation has occurred. Then management has a readily available yardstick for accountability, a measuring tool to make evaluations a fact-based, not emotion-driven, discussion. In short, they are “held” accountable. In fact, our Workplace Accountability Study revealed that 80% of survey respondents said that feedback is typically consequential or not even being exchanged. Management Accountability and Responsibility. Responsibility vs Accountability: Definitions and Reflections. Accountability and responsibility in the workplace can be learnt easily through our employee accountability training activities. While responsibility is understood as an obligation to perform a particular task, accountability denotes answerability, for the … Accountability at Work. The sense of one being responsible puts trust in a relationship. The basic difference between responsibility and accountability is that the former is assumed whereas the latter is imposed. Meanwhile, Hilda is the supervisor held accountable for the amount of chocolates boxed each day. It can also create confusion because every person with accountability feels. As stated earlier in this article, illustrations of the differences between responsibility and accountability aren’t limited to the workplace. We can feel and assume the responsibility for the well-being of a houseplant but not have any accountability. The words responsibility and accountability rear their heads when people start talking about results—especially when the desired results are not achieved. While responsibility is defined as a bundle of obligations associated with a role, accountability could be defined as blaming or crediting someone for an actionnormally associated with a recognized responsibility. In fact, many professionals we work with initially don’t think they have accountability issues but, rather, believe that they have responsibility issues instead. In any case, we bet the next time someone gives you responsibility for a task, or you hold someone accountable for your next project, you’ll think about it from a new perspective! Accountability at work is an important part of employee’s professional life. So who should be responsible and who should be accountable within the workings of a project? It just takes time and experience to realize it and understand how and where it applies. When individuals, teams, and organizations choose greater accountability, you’ll see and get more. The notion of “taking accountability” naturally sounds more significant than “having responsibility”—you’re making the choice to go beyond what you’re responsible for, carrying with it an idea of ownership, involvement, and engagement. People break-down barriers and collaborate to achieve the right results. In this article, we will define them both, and illuminate the difference between accountability and responsibility. Purpose. When people use these two words synonymously, this misapplication can unintentionally create tendencies to blame, add unnecessary confusion, cause disengagement, and lead to poor performance. 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