Ask most employees what they think is meant by being accountable for their work and they will probably tell you that it’s about fulfilling the basic requirements of their job and taking responsibility when things go wrong.

Actually, true accountability in the workplace is more than this. It is a person’s whole attitude towards his job.

Most employees think of themselves as little more than small cogs in big wheels — people who have little say and have little control over anything that happens.

They see themselves as being distinct and separate from the businesses they work for and as has been demonstrated by numerous employee engagement surveys, they do not feel committed to their organisations.

While many work very hard for their employers, they lack what I call an “owner’s mentality”.

Imagine for a moment that you own a personal stake in the company that you work for, or even own the business outright. You are still doing the same job as you’re doing now, but in this scenario how you perform in your role directly affects the business’s success, as well as your own personal situation.

Wouldn’t you put in just that little bit more effort? Wouldn’t you be more interested in understanding precisely where your role fits in the organisation so you can make more of an impact?

Wouldn’t you be more proactive, think more strategically and take initiative more often when you spot opportunities that could make a positive difference? Wouldn’t you work harder to find solutions or to meet deadlines or to please clients?

Surely you would, as it would be in your own interests to do so.

A personal investment

Being truly accountable in the workplace is about “owning” your role and treating it as though it were your own personal little business that either succeeds or fails based on how you perform.

Why, though, would you want to make such a personal investment and go to all that extra effort for a business that doesn’t actually belong to you? Why would you want to work harder just to line the pockets of the real business owners? In this instance, it’s in your own interests to do just that.

Employees who hold themselves truly accountable for their work and have an owner’s mentality stand out among their peers and they rise to the top of their organisations. By being fully responsible for their own roles, they don’t hold their managers back. Instead, they make their superiors look good which pays off when it comes to performance appraisals.

They may not receive a very big share in the profits in the same way as the real business owner, but in working towards the organisation’s success, they would be duly rewarded with higher salaries.

Just as importantly, workers who possess an owner’s mentality typically gain far more satisfaction from their work by feeling more involved. If you think like a business owner and are motivated to be more productive, you will increase your chances of better remuneration.