How MeisterTask Can Help You Build a Culture of Accountability and Boost Collaboration

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No manager wants to receive poor quality work or have to follow up on missed deadlines. Enforcing standards when employees lose focus or fail to deliver is all part of holding people accountable. Unfortunately, accountability has become synonymous with the blame game, punishment and micromanagement, when it should be a support system built on trust. In this post, we dive deeper into what accountability really means and what a lack of accountability looks like. Then, with ThinkEngine’s Ben Michaelis, we explore the tools you need to introduce a culture of accountability into your organization. 

How MeisterTask Can Help You Build a Culture of Accountability and Boost Collaboration

At every stage in the corporate growth cycle, accountability is a trending buzzword. If collaboration is part of your daily business, you’ve probably been involved in a discussion about accountability in the workplace too. “Do we have it?” “We should have it.” “Why don’t we have it?” However, behind the buzzword is a genuinely important notion, which is why you need to cut through the fluff and discover how a culture of accountability can be fundamental to your business success. 

First things first, though. What does accountability even mean?

What is Accountability in a Company?

Accountability is not about finger-pointing.

Ben Michaelis

BusinessDictionary defines accountability as: “The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

Accountability is about taking personal responsibility for something your company does. Although it sounds daunting –  the words “obligation” and “responsibility” can induce feelings of fear or anxiety – it’s a necessary facet of any functioning business. Partly because the word “accountability” can infer so many negative connotations, and confusion with “blame” and “punishment” is a common pitfall, let’s flip the question and ask instead: what isn’t accountability?

Thought leader Ben Michaelis, founder and Managing Director of UK-based industry-leading B2B Digital Marketing Agency ThinkEngine, uses the following guidelines to explain accountability both within his own team and in the context of the clients he advises:

  • Accountability is not about finger-pointing.
  • Accountability is not about catching out coworkers and shirking responsibility when things go wrong.
  • Accountability is not about taking a punitive approach.
Ben Michaelis


Accountability is essential, but getting it wrong can be costly. What if we looked at accountability not as something that fills us with dread, but as an opportunity to take ownership of our individual actions in commitment to achieving a common goal? 

Learn how to use MeisterTask for effective task management and get your team on the same page.

Why Accountability is Vital to Your Company

Accountability is about taking responsibility for results.

Ben Michaelis

If accountability structures function properly, when an employee commits to doing something, it means they will get it done. According to Ben Michaelis, the topics of accountability and collaboration are closely linked: every employee needs to recognize that other team members are dependent on the delivery and quality of their work.

“Accountability needs open and transparent communication; the status of one worker’s commitments will have a direct impact on someone else’s ability to get their own work done. Ultimately, accountability is about taking responsibility for results. It is the exact opposite of passing the buck.”

If team members are consistently able to demonstrate ownership and accountability, then trust is formed. Trust is the bedrock of effective collaboration, which is why introducing accountability specifically means holding employees and clients responsible for accomplishing joint business goals. Michaelis: 

“Accountability is one of the fundamental principles of our business. When we launched back in 2015, my priority was to bring some transparency and accountability back. By ensuring transparency, everyone is empowered to hold each other accountable and to help move work forward.”

What Happens When There’s No Accountability?

A lack of accountability is a failure of management to hold themselves accountable.

Ben Michaelis

Accountability is essential, but can be difficult to achieve. In a recent Partners in Leadership Workplace Accountability Study, 82% of respondents said they had “limited to no” ability to hold others accountable, while a staggering 91% ranked accountability as one of the most urgent priorities within their organization.

It’s an all too common complaint among managers that one – or even a few – bad apples can spoil the entire barrel. Although you may be tempted to look to your lower-performance team members when it comes to introducing accountability, the collaboration issue means that high-output, but less-collaborative employees can also harm productivity by leaving doubt over who is accountable for what. If you manage a team, you may even be familiar with the following scenario: 

  1. Having noticed a delay or inefficiency, you approach an employee to confirm accountability for the given task or process.
  2. Rather than accept accountability, the employee becomes defensive and feels under attack. Their strategy is to remind everyone that they know what they’re doing.
  3. Rather than risk conflict on the subject of accountability, you simply let the topic slide.
  4. The lack of accountability has a domino effect, causing delays for others in the workflow and potentially the whole team.

This is the worst solution for everyone involved, as Michaelis explains: “Often, a lack of accountability is a failure of management to hold themselves accountable. If nothing is done, nothing will change. ‘Letting it slide’ is damaging to the team, their productivity and, ultimately, to your organization.”

Although low accountability is often rooted in individuals or teams failing to meet expectations,  it can also filter down from the highest level. According to Michaelis, a lack of accountability can assume many forms: “a lack of ownership of tasks, a fear of missing deadlines that leads to rushing and the delivery of poor quality work, a lack of technology to assist the process, or a culture of blaming others when things go wrong” are all tell-tale signs.

Missed deadlines, a disregard for punctuality and poor quality of work can quickly become the norm. As a result, it’s not just your team that suffers, it’s your entire workplace culture.

Learn how to use the Timeline feature in MeisterTask to keep your projects on track.

Which Factors Affect Accountability?

According to Partners In Leadership, there are six warning signs that suggest you urgently need more positive accountability in the workplace: 

  • Low team morale
    This tends to be caused by inadequate and ineffective communication. Regular and meaningful communication inspires a positive attitude.
  • Unclear priorities
    Shifting priorities are a common cause of frustration. Make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and what they’re working towards by setting meaningful and measurable Objectives and Key Results.
  • Low engagement
    A perceived lack of purpose can result in employees being less invested in their work. Give feedback that reinforces the link between an employee’s efforts and the company’s overall key results.
  • Low goal completion
    A lack of accountability is reflected in a failure to meet objectives. Introduce positive accountability that praises individuals and teams for their work and encourages everyone to work together to achieve joint performance targets.
  • Low levels of trust
    Trust is lost when employees fail to deliver on their promises. Promote a culture in which individuals take ownership of their actions while holding others to the same standard.
  • High staff turnover
    High turnover can result from unclear expectations and goals. Lead by example and take responsibility, rather than pointing the finger and making excuses.

How To Make Accountability a Core Part of Your Culture

Experts generally concur on two main reasons for a lack of accountability: firstly, we fail to hold others accountable because we’re uncomfortable doing so, secondly we simply forget to do it. How might we overcome these barriers and make accountability a habit?

According to ThinkEngine’s Ben Michaelis, educating your team about accountability is crucial. “I work with a broad range of clients in financial services, real estate and technology. These are businesses that tend to be very dynamic, and project turnaround is quick, so having accountability set in that structure is critical.” In this sense, larger firms can be equally as dynamic as SMEs. Michaelis explains: “What it all comes down to is learning how to educate accountability so that people understand it, how every business does it from a cultural perspective.”

How do you do that in practice? Here are Ben Michaelis’ top tips for introducing accountability into your organization:

  1. Lead by example.
    To instill a same-side mindset, a good manager needs to lead by example and hold themselves accountable first. As a manager, you are the yardstick by which your employees measure themselves: by showing up to meetings on time, meeting deadlines and owning your mistakes, you set an example that your team can follow.
  2. Hone your feedback skills.
    Giving constructive feedback is an art, and as a manager it’s one of the most important skills at your disposal. Giving regular feedback makes it easier to both give and receive tough feedback. As a manager, feedback – both positive and negative – shows that you care and want your employees to grow. Just remember that good feedback should be clear, direct and delivered promptly. This helps you deal with any issues straight away. 
  3. Use a formalized accountability structure.
    ThinkEngine uses a popular accountability framework known as the RACI matrix. This is  a framework designed to ensure that all project stakeholders are assigned a role every step of any given process. RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, informed and defines a cumulative process to how accountability works through your entire business. A proper structure ensures that accountability is embedded into the company culture: if everybody is accountable for something, then everyone knows that things are getting done.

Discover how easy it is to roll out MeisterTask to your team and improve organization and productivity right now.

How Accountability Fosters Collaboration

Proper communication allows everybody to collaborate in a structured way.

Ben Michaelis

When employees feel they are contributing, collaborative work environments begin to click. ThinkEngine regards accountability and collaboration as two sides of the same coin. Embedding accountability into the company culture early on, says Ben Michaelis, allows you to set the standard for how you want to progress. He explains: “In the process of establishing accountability, proper communication allows everybody to collaborate in a structured way. From my own experience, the result of merging accountability with collaboration is a genuinely inspiring workplace.” 

Essential to improving accountability and collaboration is the right tool. A lack of technology to assist the process is one of the main barriers to creating a collaborative culture. Let’s look at which software you need and how Meister may have just the perfect tool to improve collaboration and accountability in your company.

Tools for Accountability

Collaborative task management tools are ideal for introducing a culture of accountability into your organization: a visualization of who is doing what at any time, and a central hub for vital communication. As a Meister Expert Partner, Ben Michaelis is convinced that MeisterTask is the perfect tool for holding both employees and external clients to common expectations. Michaelis explains: “Accountability is one of the fundamental principles of our business. When we started back in 2015, we realized that marketing agencies were infamous for failing to deliver on their promises. What I wanted to do was to bring some transparency and accountability back.”

Let’s look at some of the specific ways in which a task management tool like MeisterTask can help instill a same-side mindset.

Why MeisterTask?

More than two million teams worldwide trust MeisterTask because of its convenience, versatility and ease of use, making it equally useful to businesses of any size. Another major advantage of MeisterTask is that once small businesses start using it, they can scale the tool to grow with the business. User buy-in is also critical to achieving accountability and encouraging collaboration. Ben Michaelis explains: “MeisterTask is almost drag-and-drop-intuitive, easy to use, and people love that – irrespective of what device they’re on.”

MeisterTask is most popular with teams of fifty to a hundred people, but is also ideal for large institutions, like banks, and SMEs like ThinkEngine. Michaelis sees the tipping point for where a tool like MeisterTask becomes indispensable at as few as four users, and ThinkEngine typically has roughly 10 people on any one project board at any one time. “MeisterTask brings value to our business and a centrepoint to everything we do. It is so versatile, it can be a CRM tool, it can be a project board, it can be anything you want it to be. Generally, I would recommend it to businesses of 10 users and upwards.”

Find out more about the benefits of an online task management tool for your small business.

6 Ways MeisterTask Helps ThinkEngine To Encourage Accountability and Collaboration

ThinkEngine – an early adopter of MeisterTask – has a tech ecosystem of global partners, and Meister was one of the very first. Over the years, ThinkEngine has schooled a lot of its clients in the productivity tool, and many of them have become converts, also using MeisterTask independently of their ThinkEngine projects. As a Certified Expert Partner of MeisterTask, Ben Michaelis estimates that ThinkEngine has exposed upwards of 20 of its own clients to the platform. So that you too can reap the benefits of MeisterTask for collaboration and accountability, here are Ben Michaelis’ top tips for using MeisterTask:

  1. Assign tasks. Assigning tasks ensures that there is a clear overview of responsibility. You can even set up automations so that certain actions trigger a change of assignee automatically. 
  2. Set up Kanban-style project boards that match your project workflow. The simple nature of the kanban-style view is an excellent way to visualize projects and track their progress throughout the “to-do, in progress, completed” cycle.
  3. Plan your project with Timeline. The ability to set realistic project and task timelines is critical in terms of scheduling and meeting deadlines.
  4. Set due dates and use time tracking. Assess your daily workload by asking: do we have too much, or too little in the pipeline? Where is the happy medium? Can things be pushed back? This boils down to a clear prioritization process.
  5. Set up integrations with other tools. MeisterTask’s ability to integrate with other technologies is crucial, speeding up the collaboration process and allowing tasks to be completed faster. ThinkEngine uses the Spark email integration to queue up and schedule tasks, for example.
  6. Centralize your data. MeisterTask is cloud-based and secure for your peace of mind. It provides a central point and a single source of truth. From a security angle, the information is in the cloud, it’s stored, it’s safe. Nothing can be lost.

There are many reasons why a secure task management system should be the top priority for your team. Learn more in this blog post.

Conclusion: Accountability Makes Sense

A culture of accountability in the workplace is fuel for innovation and enterprise. It empowers employees to take ownership of their actions, creating  an environment in which mistakes are understood and learned from, not bitterly remonstrated.

Creating a culture of accountability and collaboration can be a challenge, but with the right tool it is not impossible. Holding employees and clients accountable will ultimately inspire trust – the cornerstone of effective collaboration – among individuals and teams. This is where ThinkEngine and Meister are perfectly aligned.

There are many reasons to cultivate accountability in the workplace, but the bottom line is that it simply makes good business sense.

Make Accountability a Habit.

Collaborate Effectively in MeisterTask!

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