Both the terms Accountability and Responsibility are used interchangeably but have quite a different meaning. It is very crucial that one should understand that both the terminologies are different and have very less or no similarity in them. Responsibility vs accountability are primarily differentiated on the basis that responsibility is usually shared and on the other hand accountability cannot be shared but it is to be owned. Being accountable is nothing but being answerable to your actions and it also means that you should be responsible for something. Also, responsibility is something which is held after a task is performed with responsibility can be before or after the task.
Another major difference between accountability and responsibility is that was the former is imposed to the latter is assumed. Responsibility is an application for a particular task while accountability represents the answerability or ownership for a task that is assigned.
What is Accountability?
The term accountability represents the sense of answering to the ultimate consequences. When there is a delegation of authority it is assumed that the employee is empowered to perform a particular task for his senior but the senior would still take the ownership of the final result. The accountability flows bottom up as a subordinate is usually liable to the superior for a particular task. When the person is accountable he or she is supposed to explain the outcomes regarding his decisions are actions or even omissions. When individuals another group who is ready to take the blame if the work is not done properly then it is termed as they are being accountable for their work.
What is Responsibility?
Responsibility is nothing but an obligation to complete is assigned task. It is considered as the duty of a person to complete the delegated work properly within time. It is seen usually as a senior-subordinate relationship. In this relationship, the junior is bound to perform the task that is dedicated to him by the senior. Discuss the flow of responsibility is top down since the subordinate is responsible for his or her senior. When a person or a group is in the complete charge of something and ensures that the work is completed in the proper way it is called responsibility.
Example: In an office, it is usually the responsibility of an office boy to ensure that the supplies are in the office room. So, the office boy is considered a responsible person to make the supplies available. If the supplies are not available on time, then the same office boy is accountable or answerable for his actions and he is expected to take the ownership of the same. People from another department with question him and he has to answer which makes his accountable or answerable for the work.
In terms of business, it can be seen that while managers are accountable for the action of their team, they are not responsible for the consequences or the actions of their team. Similarly, the management is accountable for every action of the organization, but the responsible person may be someone else. This is where compliance plays an important role. Every organization will have a predefined set of compliance and code of conduct and the employees of the organization are expected to adhere to the same. If an individual contributor of the organization will perform something which violates the code of conduct, then he will be responsible for the same. For example, person A was caught bribing a key official to pass his Sales Order. Person A reports to Person B who is the boss. In this incidence, Person A was caught bribing an official which was against the code of conduct. Thus, Person A will be held responsible for his actions but Person B who is his boss will be accountable for the same since it is expected of the boss to supervise the actions of his subordinates. Thus, accountability and responsibility differentiate themselves.
The key differences between accountability and responsibility are highlighted as follows :
|It refers to the answerability or the consequences of the designated work.||Responsibility refers to the obligation to perform a designated task.|
|When a person is expected to take ownership of his or her actions, then it is termed as accountability.||It is also termed as the state of having the duty to perform whatever it takes to complete the task.|
|Accountability is accepted.||Responsibility is assigned.
|There is no such thing as the Delegation of accountability.||Responsibility is delegated but may not be entire.|
|Responsibility is the originator of Accountability.||Responsibility rises from assigned authority.|
|Accountability is only after the task is performed to know if the task has been performed correctly.||The responsible person may be held accountable for something before or after the task.|
|Performance is the yardstick of measurement when the person is accountable for a particular task.||Performance of the person is not necessarily measured when he or she is responsible for the designated task.|
|More often than not, only one person is accountable for one task. Thus Accountability cannot be shared.||Multiple people may be responsible regarding a particular task. Most of the times, responsibility is shared between a group of people.|
|The person who is accountable sets the rules and policy.||The person who is responsible develops and makes it happen.|
|Accountability is result oriented.||Responsibility is a task or process oriented.|
After seeing the difference is it is clear that accountability is the one in which the person is answerable for the actions or decisions made by Him or her. Responsibilities nothing but when a person is expected to be reliable and dependable in order to complete the task that is designated to him. Accountability is not only what we do but also what we don’t do for which we are held accountable while responsibility is the obligation to perform the assigned functions or tasks. Thus to be better at the workplace, it is essential that one understands the differences between responsibilities and accountability and act accordingly.