Creating a Culture of Accountability in Small Businesses

group of people working

There’s a reason why in many countries that follow a democratic form of government, accountability is the tenet on which the whole institution is built on. This is the same reason America’s founding fathers made sure there’s a series of checks and balances in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Everyone’s actions must be subject to vetting and everyone should be held accountable for abuses that may happen.

While it is not a perfect system, there is certainly logic in creating a culture of accountability in small businesses. An accounting and inventory software application can develop a system that will ensure the protection of your business’s finances and operations.

While your accounting team, whether in-house or outsourced, will take care of recording the business transactions and even filling the appropriate taxes, accounting software is fraud-resistant, meaning people in your accounting team can collaborate with one another to tip the scales to their favors. A software program cannot be reprogrammed to suit a fraud.

As an employer, you need to focus not only on the best accounting software there is or hiring the most skilled accountant and bookkeeper. You must also look into the culture of accountability that you have in your business. Do people feel the need to report the wrongdoings of other team members? Do you humiliate employees when they make mistakes?

Build Trust and Confidence

man doing accountingThe first step to making people accountable for their actions is to show them that you trust them to do their jobs well. When they are confident with their work, they will take pride on it and they won’t let anyone—a coworker who’s planning a fraud, for example—ruin the trust and confidence you gave them. While camaraderie among coworkers is often applauded, there should also be a sense of loyalty to you, the employer. That usually develops over time, especially when you take care of your relationships with your people.

Never Name and Shame

Accountability should not be used as a tool to name and shame your employees. If there are questionable entries in the finance books, the first thing you need to do is hold a dialog with all those who work on that task. It would do you and the workers no good if you humiliate them in front of everyone. Allow your employee to explain why such mistakes happened and even when you’ve proven that fraud happened, this should not be a reason for you to shame people. You want your employees to respect you, not to fear you. Create an environment where issues can be resolved and where dialogs can result in positive outcomes for the business.

Accept Responsibility

You will nurture accountability when you let others see that you are accountable to them and the business. Put up your performance numbers on the table and never hide your mistakes from your employees. Allow them to see that you are human, too and you make mistakes, but you take responsibility for them and you correct them along the way. The purpose of checks and balances is to protect your business from fraud and financial challenges. It does not intend to humiliate every employee who makes tiny mistakes in his or her report. If and when employed correctly, accountability will create a healthy working environment that’s beneficial for the business and its people.

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