How to Take More Accountability and Ownership at Work

Taking ownership means that you have a stake in what happens and are on the hook for achieving results. Taking responsibility means being made to feel responsible, with no option of blaming anybody else. And while they’re often used interchangeably, they’re very different. Taking more accountability and ownership at work can be an extremely powerful career strategy to accelerate performance by taking charge of your destiny.

Why is Accountability and Ownership at Work Important?

First things first – accountability brings results. When individuals take ownership of their roles and tasks, it enhances productivity and performance. Think about it: when you know you’ll be held accountable for your work, you’re more likely to kick it into high gear. Plus, having a sense of ownership fosters innovation and creativity. When people feel like they have a stake in the game, they’re motivated to come up with new ideas and better solutions.

But it’s not just about individuals. Accountability and ownership boost the overall team dynamic. Picture this: a group where everyone takes ownership of their responsibilities, supports their team members, and follows through on their commitments. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? That’s because it is! When everyone pulls their weight and owns their part, collaboration thrives, and results soar.

accountability Vs. ownership

Ownership and accountability are often confused or used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Accountability is a duty or an obligation to accept responsibility for your actions, but it does not mean that you will be empowered to change those actions. Ownership means accepting responsibility for everything that happens in your area of responsibility and being committed to doing something about it.

For example, when you take accountability for a project, you are simply acknowledging that the project is yours. When you take ownership of a project, however, you have the right to make decisions regarding the direction of the project without having to get approval from others first.

Examples of taking accountability

Employees have to take ownership of the task at hand and what they are going to accomplish. They must own up to their mistakes, flaws, and other shortcomings. In other words, you should never blame external factors for your failures or shortcomings. Similarly, employees must be responsive to feedback and respond to criticism in a positive manner.

You can achieve ownership by becoming self-reliant and holding yourself accountable for your performance in the organization. You must evaluate yourself from time to time so that you don’t have any surprises from your superiors.

man writing on a pad taking ownership in his job.

Examples of taking ownership

Taking ownership means the whole team celebrates success. When you take ownership, you recognize that not only are you responsible for your work and output, but the work of others and the overall success of the team. You don’t wait to be “told” what to do or think that someone else is going to make it happen. If something needs doing, you do it, or at least look for ways to make it happen.

You identify what is going wrong and what you can do to fix it. Things will not always go well at work (or any part of life) and when they don’t, taking ownership means looking for solutions rather than pointing fingers. Rather than blaming a colleague or becoming frustrated with management or customers, seek out the root cause of problems and figure out how to improve them. It’s also fine to say that there is nothing you can do in a particular situation (or nothing more) but offer suggestions on who could help as well as what steps could be taken next time to avoid similar issues from happening again.

You look for ways to make others succeed. Taking ownership also means ensuring those around you succeed too. Whether that’s through mentoring, sharing knowledge, or simply stepping back when needed so others can shine without feeling threatened by your presence in their space. Simply put: good employees enable their colleagues rather than hold them back from doing their best work because they’re afraid they’ll be outshined by them, which would lead to losing their job!

Owning Your Work and Thriving

Taking responsibility for your work is a key leadership skill that can help you advance in your career. When people see you taking ownership, they will be more likely to look up to you as a leader. It may be based on nothing more than respect for the work that you do and not necessarily out of personal feelings for you as an individual. Showing others that you are committed to making sure the job gets done will earn their trust in the long run.

Don’t wait for someone else to step up before doing what needs to be done. The power of leading by example is a powerful tool and one that should never be underestimated. People will take note when they notice that you are always the first person to step up to the plate when something needs doing. They will also see that if they don’t do their part of getting things done, it won’t matter because they know you’ll pick up the slack.

Look out for areas where things might be falling through the cracks and make sure they get covered before there is a problem and someone has to explain why it wasn’t done. Being proactive is an important quality in anyone who considers themselves a leader or wants to become one.

person engaged in a conversation at work taking accountability for their work.

How to Encourage others to take ownership in the workplace

You will be amazed at how quickly others start to take ownership if you praise them and recognize them for taking ownership. If you see one of your coworkers doing something that shows they are taking ownership, praise them for it. Letting others know when they are doing a good job is always great but in this case, it also encourages more of the same.

As a supervisor, you can help others take ownership by being an example yourself. By taking responsibility for things and owning up to mistakes, you will show your coworkers that accountability is something you value in yourself and the people around you. This makes it easier for others to adopt the same attitude.

If you want to get people on board with your vision, show them what’s in it for them. How does what you’re asking of them benefit their lives? Get specific about the benefits so that anyone hesitant about accepting responsibility gets an incentive that appeals to him or her personally.

Lead up in your workplace

Leading up means that you take responsibility for the greater good of your organization by influencing those in positions above you. It’s not just about making sure that they know what you’re doing and how you’re contributing it’s also about helping them do their jobs better.

A big part of leading up is understanding the context of our bosses’ broader roles in the organization. We need to understand how their goals fit into the broader vision of the company, and then find ways to support them. This can be as simple as suggesting new strategies or solutions to problems they may be facing, or even just giving them feedback on their performance.

This is a difficult skill to master, but it will set you apart from other leaders within your company. You may not be a manager yet (and maybe you never will be), but leading up means that you are taking responsibility for the success of your organization.

Communicate with your employer about your career goals

In order for your boss to help make you successful, communication is key. Ask him/her what their expectations are for you and how they define success in your position. A good boss should give you clear guidelines on what they want to see from you and what measures of success they use to evaluate your performance. If not, offer up a suggestion of how often you’d like to meet with them so that she can provide feedback on your progress.

It’s also important to communicate clearly with your employer about your career goals. That way, if they match up with the company’s objectives and needs, there will be opportunities for advancement as they arise rather than needing to create jobs that fit your skillset within the organization (which may or may not be feasible).

chess  and puzzle pieces showing the importance of coming with solutions.

When there are problems, provide solutions

When problems occur, it’s important to provide solutions.

Here are some ways to bring accountability and ownership into your work:

  • Talk about the problem. If you notice a problem, speak up about it. Not all problems can be solved, but considering the outcomes of various solutions will help you evaluate which problems are worth investing time in solving and which aren’t.
  • Come with a solution. In addition to identifying a problem, come with at least one potential solution (ideally more). Your manager is going to be much more receptive to hearing about a potential issue if you also have some ideas for how it could be resolved. This step will also help guide the conversation towards what’s actionable — not just complaining that something could go wrong in the future (which isn’t particularly useful).
  • Be involved in the solution. If your manager chooses one of your suggestions as part of their solution plan, get involved! By being involved in resolving an issue, you’ll gain both technical skills and soft skills such as collaboration and communication skills that will serve you well throughout your career. You’ll also become better acquainted with how decisions are made within your company’s organizational structure so that you can make better recommendations moving forward.
  • Follow up on the outcome of your issues/recommendations/decisions later on down the road! It may take several days or even weeks for issues to be resolved or changes to be implemented depending on their complexity and scope. Follow up with managers or colleagues after some time has passed to see if there were any unexpected consequences from any decisions they made based on your suggestions or recommendations.

Always look for opportunities to learn

If you want to get better at your job and stay ahead of the curve, you should ask for more responsibility. Look for opportunities to learn about new technologies, processes, or tools that can help you succeed. You should also seek out training opportunities and seek out mentors. And finally, read up on everything that’s happening in your industry.

With this knowledge and skillset, you’ll be able to easily handle whatever challenges are thrown at you. Whether it’s a new product that needs to be launched or a client who’s suddenly demanding more from you than they ever have before. And thanks to all of the reading we’ve been doing, we feel like we don’t even have a chance of losing!

So if you’re looking for a way to make yourself even more valuable, why not take advantage of all the opportunities available?

Remember why you chose your job

Remember why you took the job. What was it about the job that appealed to you?

Do you like what you do? Does it fulfill your sense of purpose and make a difference in other people’s lives?

Are you good at your work? Have others recognized your skills and contributions in some way, such as a raise or promotion?

Are you committed to doing this kind of work? If not, what would be interesting and fulfilling for you to do instead?

Do you enjoy working with the people at your workplace? Including management and colleagues?

How does your manager affect how much effort you put into doing a good job? Do they inspire, motivate, or help further your career goals?

How does the company itself support its employees in developing professionally and being successful on the job? Is there training available that would help further your career goals?

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the more you take accountability for your actions and your work, the more ownership you will feel over your work and your organization, and that can only be a good thing. Everybody wants to feel like they belong to something important, something bigger than themselves. And there’s no better way to do that at work than taking more accountability and ownership of your workload because it’s yours alone!

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