How to Hold People Accountable when You’d Rather Eat a Worm
12 reasons holding people accountable is distasteful:
- You naturally pick up the slack when someone falls behind.
- You aren’t accountable to your own responsibilities. (Like holding people accountable.)
- It’s hard to begin something you haven’t been doing.
- Being liked is better than feeling disliked.
- The thought of an argument gives you sweaty hands.
- You hate hurting people’s feelings.
- Responsibilities weren’t clear to begin with.
- Letting people off the hook is easier than watching them squirm.
- Excuse-making is an acceptable practice on your team.
- You aren’t sure when to give second chances.
- Responsibility to hold people accountable doesn’t come with authority to bring consequences.
- Worst-case-thinking dominates your approach. “I’ll just have to terminate them.”
If you’d like to begin holding people accountable…
#1. Think of accountability as partnership.
“We’re holding each other accountable.”
Discuss and clarify shared and individual responsibilities.
- What are we responsible for…?
- What am I responsible for…?
- What are you responsible for…?
Describe responsibilities in behavioral terms, not simply end results.
#2. Adopt life-giving accountability behaviors and practices.
- Ask, “What can I do to support your success?” before projects begin.
- Be sure that goal setting is done in partnership.
- Define how behaviors impact results.
- Assume responsibility for the success of your team.
- Convince everyone that you’re committed to their success.
#3. Approach accountability as a process, not an event at the end of a project.
- Have regular one-on-ones.
- Set milestones. What do you need to get done today or this week? Annual goals are meaningless until December.
- Include others. Accountability can’t be a secret.
When many people contribute to success, all of them are accountable for success.
#4. Hold people accountable for their growth and development.
#5. Confess that you aren’t good at holding people accountable and discuss how to practice it with your team.
What tips do you have for strengthening a leader’s accountability muscle?