10 ways to create an accountable team culture with Asana

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No matter where your team works, whether remotely or all together in an office, building a culture of accountability is key to hitting your goals and keeping projects on track. Teammates want to know that they can rely on each other to jump in and collaborate on projects, and managers want to know that individual contributors can meet deadlines and expectations without being micromanaged. At the heart of accountability is communication and transparency. When teams communicate frequently and openly, their responsibilities become clearer and they’re able to deliver on agreements more easily. 

Asana helps teams build accountability by providing clarity into who is doing what by when, for every piece of work, on one central platform. Here are the top 10 features we recommend for creating your own culture of accountability, from anywhere. 

For team members

Stay connected with Inbox

Unlike your email inbox, which often feels more cluttered than convenient, your Asana Inbox is your friend. There’s no junk mail here. Instead, Inbox is your one stop shop for coordinating work and responding to requests across your entire team. When managed correctly, it can help you build a whole lot of accountability with relatively low effort. 

Teammate @mention you in a comment for help? Reply to them from your Inbox. New tasks added to a project you’re working on? Assign a due date, add collaborators, or change the description from your Inbox. Status of a deliverable changed from “Not started” to “Reviewing”? Show an appreciation or create a follow-up task for yourself to check in with that teammate later—again right from your Inbox. You can find more ideas for how to use your Inbox like a pro, with our top five tips for managing your Inbox

Tackle your to-do list with My Tasks

My Tasks is your personal Asana to-do list. It helps you prioritize and visualize your day’s work by automatically showing all tasks assigned to you and when they’re due. The easiest way to build trust and accountability with My Tasks is simply to complete your tasks by the date and time they’re due (more on that next). 

If you have a lot of tasks, you can start your day visualizing tasks in Calendar View or sorting them by due date to see what needs your immediate attention. If you find that you have overdue tasks or won’t be able to get to a task today, @mention the teammate who assigned it and let them know you need more time. They’ll appreciate the heads up, and together you can decide on a new timeline that makes sense.

💡Pro tip: Keep your task list tidy and actionable by organizing and prioritizing them  (e.g. Today, Upcoming, or Later) using shortcut keys

Simplify work scheduling and handoffs with start dates, due dates and dependencies

These details are the “by when” in who’s doing what by when. They may sound small but they have a big impact on creating accountability across your team. Start dates let teammates know when you expect to start on a task. Due dates let teammates know when you expect to complete it. When used together, start dates and due dates communicate how much time you’re spending on a piece of work, and also when you will or won’t be focused on it. 

Say for example your manager assigns you a quarterly report due next Friday. By filling in the task dates as next Monday to Thursday, you’re letting them know that you’ll be prioritizing the work all next week. Finally, using task dependencies are a great way to communicate that your teammates can’t start a task until you’ve completed yours. These are particularly useful when you have overlapping start and due dates (e.g. your teammate has a task starting on Monday that’s dependent on you completing a task on Monday).

Add an extra layer of clarity with custom fields

Just like task dates and dependencies, custom fields can go a long way in communicating information about a task to help keep you and your team accountable. Some of our favorite custom fields to use include:

  • Priority: Using a scale from P0 (highest priority) to P3 (lowest priority) aligns the team on what work is most important to any given project.
  • Task progress: This field gives you a high-level view of task progress (e.g. not started, started, complete) so you don’t have to hunt down teammates for an update.
  • Cross-functional requirements: Adding binary yes or no custom fields for cross-functional requirements such as design, copy, and translation can help your team plan resource requests upfront.

💡Pro tip: You can add colors, emojis, and even links to your custom fields to help them stand out and customize them to your specific needs.

Keep conversations actionable with integrations

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of the drive-by work request or casual favor to ask. But when work requests come in through chat, email or other collaboration tools, it’s hard to stay accountable and actually follow through on what’s being asked of you. Thankfully, Asana integrates with hundreds of popular business tools so you can turn most messages and conversations into actionable tasks in just a few clicks. Some of our favorite include:

Not only do these integrations help keep you more accountable, they also allow your teammates to track work requests and follow up with more details, links, or attachments later so you can kick off the work with everything you need, all in one place.

For team leads

Monitor all of your team’s work at a glance with Portfolios

As a team lead or manager, you’re likely responsible for multiple people each working on multiple projects with many multiple associated tasks and Milestones. Time spent keeping tabs on every project and ensuring team members are staying accountable adds up—quickly. 

With Portfolios, you can get a bird’s-eye view of all your team’s projects and initiatives all in one place. A quick scan will let you know which projects are on track, which are in danger of falling behind schedule, and when the latest status update was communicated. From there, you can drill down into upcoming or overdue tasks and follow-up with your team to keep work moving in the right direction, without micromanaging everything (or everyone) else.

Orchestrate complex project plans with Timeline

When coordinating large-scale or even just long-term projects with your team, staying accountable to deadlines is critical. Timeline is a Gantt chart-style view you can use to see how work fits together and build entire project plans complete with assignees, due dates, and dependencies. When priorities shift, just drag and drop tasks along the timeline to get your team back on track or create Rules to automatically adjust the due date of dependent tasks for you. Either way, you’re keeping everyone accountable and up-to-date on the latest workback timelines so you can deliver work on time, every time.

Asana timeline view

💡Pro tip: You can turn spreadsheets into Timelines using Asana’s CSV importer.

Provide visibility into project progress with Status updates

If your team meets for regular status updates or you find yourself needing to report progress to an executive stakeholder, Status reports are a fast and simple way to communicate your updates asynchronously.

With Status, you can create unique, visually-compelling status updates to show off your team’s progress and accomplishments, and call out specific tasks, Milestones, and Approvals that need attention. You can also access past status updates to see the team’s progress week over week and recommend staffing or prioritization changes to keep projects on track.

Balance team priorities with Workload

Managing teams and keeping folks effective is all about finding the right balance. The right balance of responsibilities, the right balance of priorities, and the right balance of every day tasks and projects. 

Workload helps you hit that sweet spot between being productive and burning out, by giving you insight into every teammate’s individual bandwidth at any given time. If you notice someone is particularly overloaded, just drag and drop tasks from the Workload view to rebalance work and keep everyone performing at their very best.

Prioritize the right work and align teams to strategic initiatives with Goals

Building a culture of accountability will only take your team so far if you aren’t prioritizing the right work to achieve your goals. Research shows the majority of employees don’t have a clear understanding of how their work relates to company goals, or what company goals have even been set. This misalignment is often a symptom of tracking goals in spreadsheets and slides and being disconnected from everyday work. 

Our newest Asana feature, Goals, solves this problem by providing a single source of truth for you to set, track, and manage all of your team goals—right in Asana. This allows you to prioritize the right work and see exactly when and where team initiatives are at risk, before it’s too late. Further, you can link supporting projects and Portfolios to Goals to show how work ladders up to strategic initiatives.

Committing to greater accountability

When teammates and managers trust each other to get the job done and communicate with clarity and transparency, the whole team thrives. Let us know in the comments below which features you’ll be using to build greater accountability or if we missed any favorites!

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