Tardiness. Bickering. Indecisiveness. Blaming. Irresponsibility.
Does this sound familiar? If so, your team (or family) may be suffering from a clear lack of accountability. While I realize the “A” word is used and overused, I am going to continue talking about it, because I believe a clear accountability process is critical for companies, both large and small, to be able to thrive in the future.
Here is what I experience with many leaders I coach. One of the first questions I ask is this “Tell me about your accountability and decision making process. How does it work?” Approximately 93% of the time, the response is “Uhm, well…er…we don’t really have one.” As I begin to talk more with the leader about how an accountability process might work and how it can…
1) Save time
2) Stop team conflict
3) Improve decision making
4) Make more money
5) Reduce a stalemate
and so forth, their eyes light up. They get so excited. I then say “So…tell me about how you feel about being the role model for an accountability process by giving your team permission to start calling you on your stuff?” Guess what happens? About 93% of the time, the leader decides against implementing an accountability system or process, because at the end of the day, they say they just don’t know that they can go through this. They really aren’t ready to hear feedback from their team members and feel as if this approach would weaken her authority and diminish her credibility.
The opposite is actually true. When a leader steps up and says “I am going to start being more efficient, more punctual, more open to your suggestions and am going to start being a better listener, and I need you to call me on the carpet when I’m out of line”, your team will be shocked, amazed and your credibility as a leader will dramatically increase. Once the leader sets the stage for being held accountable, your team will “get it”, and then you and your team can sit down and hammer out a true accountability system which meets the needs of your company. At the end of the day, with a solid accountability process…one that works…your team will feel much more secure about their role on the team and about you as a leader.
One idea on the topic of accountability is to start by identifying one tiny problem that keeps popping up on your team. This could be tardiness to staff meetings, lack of follow through, not returning phone calls, clutter, dropping the ball, finger pointing or any type of team breakdown that gets in the way of your efficiency. Start with one problem, and look at all of the reasons (at the root) which are contributing to the problem. Acknowledge that the problem exists, discuss it with your team and then design an accountability system for that one problem, and give your team 3 months to get it worked out. As much as I would love to give you a true formula for this (example…a 3 strike rule…3 strikes and you are out), I cannot…your team has to be the group to sit down and come up with a creative way to get people to correct a deficiency or problem, because trust me…one system does not fit all. There are multiple approaches which include both consequences for falling short and rewards for success. Sit down and come up with as many solutions as possible and then write out what your process will be and then follow it to the nth degree.
If you start today by addressing the accountability challenges in your company, your team will stand a much better chance of success in the future…trust me…I’ve worked with teams on this issue multiple times, and accountability processes do work, but only if you are willing to be the first to take the hit.