Is it easy for you to hold others accountable? Even the most seasoned leaders can find this difficult.
Yet, accountability is the very thing that makes everything work.
Holding others accountable was indeed challenging for Randy, CEO of Andes, Inc., and this meant that the company wasn’t getting the results it needed. What’s more, Andes had begun to lose market share. Would it survive?
Randy was missing just one ingredient in order to turn things around.
Randy had brought in a bevy of consultants to review the company’s challenges. His drawer was full of strategic plans, and employees had undergone training in a number of programs meant to help them work better, smarter, and get greater results. Yet, nothing had worked. Meanwhile, it was discovered that some teams were duplicating efforts, and others weren’t delivering on what was expected. Randy was frustrated, and sometimes lost his temper, wondering why people weren’t just doing what they should do.
The fact was, he simply wasn’t holding his team accountable. And in turn, they weren’t holding their own teams accountable, either.
Things were a mess.
Holding others accountable is what is necessary to helping others to deliver on their commitment so that the work gets done. If you are responsible for organizational or team outcomes, it’s necessary to learn how to do this well so that you get the results you need. Holding others accountable is also a way of saying, “Your contributions matter,” which motivates employees and helps them to be more engaged.
Holding others accountable, however, can feel awkward.
And that’s what Randy felt. He was great at inspiring and motivating others but helping them to follow through was where he fell short. He thought that providing clear feedback felt like criticism, and so he avoided giving others the feedback they needed in order to know they were on track. Left to their own devices, the executive team simply interpreted what they thought should be done, did the best they could, but failed miserably because of a lack of information. They passed on this unfortunate culture of murky mediocrity to the rest of the organization – and this is why it started to fail.
Fortunately, with coaching, Randy turned things around. He met with his team, agreed on what was needed, and shared the 5 steps to hold others accountable. Over time, Andes moved into a position of excellence.
If you feel you need to strengthen your accountability game, use these 5 steps to put in place a system that works:
1. Be clear about your expectations.
In order for others to be able to deliver on your expectations, they need to understand what these are. Be sure that as you share what you expect that you ask them if they have questions and let them know that they will have access to you for questions as they move forward.
2. Help identify the skills and resources needed to support them.
What will they need in order to perform well? Who are the people they need to work with, and what are politics, protocols, and processes of which they need to be aware in order to succeed?
3. Follow up regularly.
Agree on the way in which your reports will keep you updated on their progress. Do you want them to meet with you regularly to report to you, or provide a written report? How often? What elements do you need to see in the report?
4. Give clear and timely feedback.
Honest and ongoing feedback is critical to the process. Be sure you are timely so that this becomes a powerful mentoring experience. And be clear in your feedback. If you are not, you should not expect to see the progress you expect.
5. Clear consequences.
Have you made sure you have done everything you can to help the person succeed in performance? If they have succeeded, reward this in a way that is appropriate to the outcome such as acknowledgment, recognition, or even a bonus or promotion. If there has been a lack of clarity on your part, be sure you course-correct this by repeating the steps above. And if the person shows signs of inability or commitment to perform, then it’s time to release them from the assignment or role with any other appropriate steps needed.
I challenge you to make accountability a chief focus for the coming season. Your leadership will be even more effective, and your results will help the organization to thrive.
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Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.