Creating Mutual Accountability Between Leaders & Direct Reports

Image: Creating Mutual Accountability Between Leaders & Direct Reports

Mutual Accountability in the Workplace

Once upon a time, the notion of there being ‘mutual accountability’ between a leader and his/her direct report would have been seen as an overly sensitive way to look at the reporting relationship. Traditionalist, Baby Boomers and most Gen X leaders would say “the employee is accountable to me”. Those generations of leaders would not have said that they have a reciprocal responsibility to show engagement to the direct report early on in the relationship.

Who has pushed for leaders to be accountable? The Gen Ys

Years ago, n-gen prophesied that Gen Ys would be ‘the disruptive technology of human resources’. In many ways, Gen Ys are pushing leaders to realise that the employment deal is truly two-way street from the start. Within leadership, one of the ways in which Gen Ys have pushed the issue is by demanding that leaders show levels of engagement with new employees right from the start. While Gen Xers also believed and hoped that leaders would show right away an equal amount of caring and engagement about their learning, development and career success, they came to accept that this was not going to happen.

Demanding Leader Accountability

Gen Ys – for the causal reasons of upbringing, school system, high levels of education and (in some regions) labour shortage – are unwilling to accept that leaders not show levels of engagement and caring starting from the first day. Gone are the days that a leader could say or think ‘you prove to me that you are worth my attention’. Today’s employees, especially Gen Ys, expect leaders to demonstrate that they are invested in employees’ success on day one of employment.

Gen Ys have pushed leaders to re-look at how they recruit and on-board; though it must be said, the tips listed below would be appreciated by every generation of employee.

How Do Leaders’ Demonstrate Mutual Accountability?

Leaders have to demonstrate that they care about employees’ success, right from the start. Leaders have to create an on-boarding experience that shows that they care. Below are tips for starting a mutual accountable relationship:

  • Communicate with the employee before s/he starts – send a ‘looking forward to you joining my team’ email, send a package of company swag, send a document that outlines what will happen in the first week
  • Make sure that s/he is ready with all the elements that the employee will need right away (e.g. desk/computer/internet access etc.)
  • Be there – don’t leave the introductions to someone else on the team
  • Discuss with the employee what your goals are for them in the first month
  • Ask the employee what s/he is looking for from you


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