How Accountability Stops Chinese Water Torture

You can’t prove that dripping water on someone’s forehead eventually drives them insane without risking someone’s sanity. But the Myth Busters verified the power of Chinese Water Torture.

The stress of nagging issues, like dripping faucets, drives managers crazy.

I bet something’s drilling into your head right now.

Drip drip drip:

Is that customer issue resolved? Drip!

Who took care of …? What about…? Drip! Drip!!

You care and the buck stops with you. Drip!

Dripping concerns drive managers to distraction.

Accountability stops Chinese Water Torture:

Accountability helps you sleep at night.

3 questions to accountability:

#1. What happened?

The “what happened” question is answered simply. “We missed our deadline.” Learn to avoid nuts and bolts when dealing with competent people.

You may need to run interference, but trust competent people to solve their own issues.

Don’t ask “why questions.”

“Why did you miss your deadline?” invites blaming and excuse-making.

Stop all conversations when you hear excuses.

Try saying, “Oh, I should have asked, what’s the status of this issue?”

Tip: “The machine broke,” is an explanation, not an excuse.

#2. What’s your plan?

Don’t drop into the weeds with experienced managers. The more detail you hear, the more worry you take on.

Express trust.

“I’m counting on you,” expresses confidence when relationships are strong and team members are competent.

Trust eases worry.

You can’t control every contingency, but you can learn to trust reliable people.

Tip: When track records aren’t established, dig into details.

#3. When will you let me know it’s resolved?

Make an appointment for the resolution report. If they don’t show up, go to their office.

Let people know that you always follow-up.

Issues you let slide keep you up at night.

Tip: Don’t set deadlines at the end of the day. How will you follow-up when someone doesn’t follow-through if it’s the end of day?

How might managers deal with dripping issues?

What shouldn’t managers do with dripping issues?

Bonus material:

10 Tips for Getting Your Chaotic Project Back on Track (Liquid Planner) — send this link to someone that needs it.

Do This When the Ball Gets Dropped — and Avoid Repeats (Forbes)

Top Four Reasons You’re not Sleeping Through the Night (Harvard Health Publication)