#LASHRM14: The power of employee accountability

#LASHRM14: The power of employee accountability

Human resources is supposed to be part of the employee engagement solution. But is HR actually part of the problem?

The answer to that question is determined by the level of accountability you hold your employees to, said Cy Wakeman in her keynote speech, “Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace – The New HR Foundation for Boosting Employee Value, Driving Strategic Results and Fulfilling Organizational Missions,” earlier this month at the 2014 Louisiana Society for Human Resource Management Conference on Human Resources.

If you want to help your employees be more engaged, better performers and contribute higher levels of value, you need to evaluate and change their mindsets — and most importantly hold them accountable for their thoughts, feelings and actions, Wakeman said.

Suffering comes from a lack of employee accountability

“The problem is that people are suffering and they actually believe it’s because of their circumstances,” Wakeman said. Your employees may think that to get happy something in their reality needs to change — their title, their compensation; more of this or more of that. But the truth is, “people suffer because of their lack of accountability for their circumstances.”

In other words, people are so focused on the stories they’ve created about their circumstances that they’ve given those circumstances power over their own emotional well-being — and ultimately their work performance and value.

Employees have learned helplessness

Employees have developed “learned helplessness” — the belief that they have no impact on a situation, Wakeman said. They have become so disempowered they believe the results they see in their work are dictated by the world around them.

But, “suffering is optional; it’s a choice,” Wakeman said. “Stop believing what you ‘think’ is happening, because when you’re judging you’re not leading and you’re not adding value.”

“Your ego hates happiness. It says, ‘Wait, hold up there’s injustice here,’” Wakeman said. In other words, when people are caught up in stories about their circumstances, they’ve removed themselves from the reality of the situation, handed the keys over to their egos and allowed them to drive their results.

“Thinking comes out in actions and defensiveness is the first act of war,” Wakeman said.

Emotional waste has heavy costs

There are four reasons this is a problem for HR:

  • The biggest waste you have is emotional waste — 2 hours a day per head count.

  • Emotional waste is expensive.

  • HR can make the problem worse by not helping employees become empowered through accountability.

  • Emotional waste spreads to others.

“Sixty-eight percent of Americans quit their jobs everyday and they still get a paycheck. They’re the disengaged employees,” Wakeman said. If you want to know your employee’s value — the total cost of them — add up the cost of their hassle factor, their drama quotient and their freak-out factor.

Create accountability processes

How do you get rid of this emotional waste?

You must develop processes to hold your employees accountable and measure their accountability, Wakeman said. You aren’t in the business to control your employees minds, instead you’re holding them accountable for their own thoughts, emotions and actions.

Do this by challenging your employees, letting them face their own consequences without rescuing them. Then, provide them with feedback. Make the feedback small and their time for self-reflection big, Wakeman said. Remember, “getting people into personal accountability is your focus, but it’s your employee’s job.” You can’t do it for them.

“We’ve led people away from the truth that they alone are responsible for their reality,” Wakeman concluded. “Instead, we’ve made people believe that they’re reliant on us for their results. None of those limitations even exist. If you want to free your people, call your people up to greatness and help them step up and take accountability.”

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