Leadership accountability is a buzzword nowadays.  I know I have said it so many times, my head hurts.  But, I truly believe that better accountability will not only solve many of the poor behaviors in safety but in all areas of a company.

The problem is that when we say we need better accountability, everyone nods their heads, but they don’t know how to actually achieve it.

That’s what we are doing this episode – breaking down the steps and simplifying accountability.


Steps to Improving Leadership Accountability

  1. Commitment – the management team, starting from the top, needs to be committed to improving their accountability. Without this commitment, they will put in the wishy-washy effort and get out wishy-washy results.

  2. Training – before you can hold anyone accountable, they need to be trained on the policy, procedure, SOP, whatever it is you want to enforce. You also have to make sure they have a clear understanding of it.  This step can take minutes or months.
  3. Consequences – for accountability to happen, there have to be consequences. No consequences = no accountability  AT ALL!!  Don’t even bother if you don’t have consequences.  They don’t have to be harsh; depending on the action, it could be a discussion, coaching, training, or something stricter like termination.
  4. Authority – the person responsible for holding people accountable has to have the authority to enforce the consequences. Preferably they should have the ultimate authority to terminate the employee.  You can’t hold someone accountable if you don’t have the authority to do so.
  5. Consistency – treat every person doing the same behavior the same regardless of the results. Never walk past a violation of the policy.  No action = action, meaning you are accepting the bad behavior.  This is the hardest part and the most time-consuming.  But, when done right, becomes easier and less so over time.

Safety Managers Don’t Have Authority

Usually, step four is the tricky part.  They want safety managers to hold people accountable for safety, but safety managers don’t have the authority to impose consequences or fire people.  We shouldn’t be the safety police.  This is why safety needs to be enforced by front-line supervisors.

Going up the Chain for leadership accountability

Because safety managers don’t have authority, the next best thing they can do is go up the chain of command.  Employee’s supervisor > department manager > company head.  Keep going up the chain until you can’t.  If no action is happening, then they are saying the policy doesn’t matter; go back to step one – Commitment.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • What is accountability 
  • The steps to have accountability
    • Commitment
    • Training
    • Consequences
    • Authority
    • Consistency
  • Commitment to Accountability
  • What to do when you don’t have authority

Links Mentioned:

Now it’s Your Turn

Accountability is definitely a soapbox topic for me.  I think it is the easiest thing to do that will have the biggest impact on your safety program.  What do you think?  What are your struggles when it comes to accountability?  Leave a comment below and be sure to share this episode with your Best Safety Friend.

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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