The 4C’s of Accountability that Increase Performance and Lower Stress

“Holding people accountable” feels oppressive – like pressuring reluctant people to do something they resist.

Insecurity, lack of clarity, and lack of follow-up make accountability frustrating.

Frustration turns accountability into punishment.


Develop an accountability practice that lowers stress and energizes teams.

Authentic accountability:

  1. Creates clarity.
  2. Honors talent.
  3. Energizes teams.
  4. Lowers stress.
  5. Builds comradery.
  6. Elevates satisfaction.
  7. Serves customers.

4C’s of Accountability:

#1. Curiosity.

  1. What’s next?
  2. When will you complete this project?
  3. Could you send me a timeline for this project?
  4. How could we meet or beat the timeline for this project?
  5. I notice the estimate for this project is 12 hours. I’m interested in the accuracy of that estimate.

#2. Connection.

You get there when your exercise partner meets you at the gym!

Everyone does better when they feel accountable to someone.

Accountability is social.

Work that has no impact on others is meaningless. Accountability includes explaining the impact one person’s work has on others.

  • “I’m helping the sales team create a timeline. When will you complete your part of this project?”
  • “The production team is establishing a delivery time with our customer. What’s your timeline for this design?”

Accountability is about taking care of each other.

#3. Clarity.

Who, what, and when are the core of accountability.

Timing is the most difficult part of accountability.

End meetings with the accountability question. “Who does what by when?”

Deadlines establish importance and urgency. Work that’s due in six months doesn’t feel as important as work that’s due tomorrow.

This week is better than next week when establishing accountability. Create short-term milestones for long-term projects.

#4. Contribution.

Contribution is the heart of accountability. “I appreciate your contribution to this project. What’s your timeline?”

Show respect to a person’s strength if you expect them to bring their strengths to work.

What lousy accountability practices have you seen?

What accountability practices work best for you and your team?

Bonus material:

How to Improve Accountability in the Workplace in 5 Steps (Insperity)

Discover how to Hold People Accountable (Coaching for Leaders)

Tools for Leading Through Disruption!

Click the banner to purchase your download.