Occasionally showing up late to work or missing a day is not an issue. But with chronic tardiness, absenteeism, and other irresponsible behaviors detrimental to the workplace, problem employees can take down company morale and stifle productivity

Some companies are known for docking the pay of chronically-late employees or even fining them. Even so, chances are that latecomers will still show up late (much like those who arrive early will still come early).

Managers are often stumped about how to put an end to these unwanted behaviors in talent they would rather keep. But one sure strategy starts with leadership setting the right culture in place.

Let me expand on this.

We need more work cultures of accountability

If employees are chronically late or absent, this is symptomatic of a bigger issue. One of the problems I've found with many of my clients stems from well-intentioned employees feeling like they're being treated like children.

When employees are caught in a parent-child relationship rather than being influenced by servant leaders interested in their development, you'll find employees unwilling to accept accountability for their work or the success of the business.

Intrinsically-motivated employees who feel accountable for their performance and their company's success are less likely to behave in destructive and irresponsible ways.

Rather than acting like parents trying to persuade rebellious children to obey, a company's management culture must first foster the environment for employees to view themselves as being accountable for the effect their chronic irresponsible behaviors have on the business.

Inspiring personal accountability

First of all, shifting a company culture from parent-child to everyone held accountable for success requires leaders seeing the potential in all people and treating them with dignity and respect.

Here is a five-step strategy to generate a culture of high accountability.

  1. Educate and communicate to your most valued employees about the mission, how the business works, and the impact their day-to-day work has on both short-term and long-term success.
  2. Include employees in the decision-making process related to things like work processes and how to increase customer satisfaction.
  3. Empower your high potentials and other key employees with leadership concepts that help them make better decisions and support business objectives.
  4. Identify and remove obstacles that get in the way of employee commitment and loyalty.
  5. Teach managers a "bottom up" leadership approach by eliminating micromanaging, removing fear, and giving employees more access to information.

To recap, a sound strategy for removing costly irresponsible behaviors like chronic tardiness from your company is to arouse a culture of accountability that enables employee commitment. When employees are held in high esteem and trusted with owning their work, it's easier to bring up the business impact of unwanted behaviors (like chronic tardiness) when it happens. At the same time, leaders will want to engage employees by involving them in problem-solving and creating solutions they, themselves, will want to implement.