Culture of Co-Accountability


Accountability is the ability to hold yourself responsible for your commitments; co-accountability it is the ability to hold your peers to what they committed. Many people think of accountability as a threat, the spark that ignites a fight or even the beginning of the infamous “blame game” … this is a shame. Accountability, especially in our world of construction, is one of the best tools we have. If you pledge to “live in reality”, and support a culture that fosters accountability, you and your team will become stronger and more efficient, guaranteed.

Let us look at this in greater detail. A construction project is typically made up of owners, general contractors, sub-contractors, and venders. This means that you have different individuals within each layer. Think about how many deliverables and commitments are made through these teams. Now think about how many of the said commitments are actually met. If you have experience in construction, you are probably frustrated by just reading the previous two sentences! Do not fret, this is where co-accountability comes into play.

  • Where can you implement co-accountability? Well, anywhere really but let us stick to construction for now. Next time you are in a meeting, for example a project management meeting, mention to the team how you would like everyone to focus on creating a “culture of accountability”. This means that every person involved has the authority to hold each other to their commitments. It will be vital that you describe that this is to create a healthier, more efficient work environment where excuses are not permitted.
  • How do you hold someone accountable? When beginning to build a culture of accountability its great to start with saying to a peer “I would like to practice accountability here” and then deliver your message in an appropriate tone. By doing this you will prepare the person to receive feedback and hopefully avert unproductive conflict. You will need to remind them of their task, due date and share with them that asking for help before a deadline is OK but executes after the deadline are not! If a peer frequently fails to deliver upon their commitments, they are probably in the wrong role.
  • Be consistent and persistent. There is no better way to ensure your mission of creating a culture of accountability then being consistent and persistent. Ironically, you need to hold yourself accountable to your mission of co-accountability. Each meeting you need to remind your team that they are in an excuse-free zone, where we can respectfully call each other out to ensure commitments are met. Failure to meet expectations may mean that the role is not right for you. Keep your message simple and consistent when you frequently deliver it. It is important that you remain vulnerable to the fact that you may fall short of a commitment and your team will “call you out” – this is good! It means others are joining the culture.
  • How do you know you have created a culture of co-accountability? You know you have a culture of accountability when you feel comfortable looking a peer in the eye and holding them accountable. The peer should also understand that this is not an attack, rather an opportunity to improve upon their own actions. After all, the true meaning of co-accountability is to help, support and encourage growth and honesty. So, if your projects are completed faster, with less finger pointing and greater accuracy; your co-accountability culture exists! Be happy and embrace the newfound tool of co-accountability.