Here is a common question we hear from today’s business leaders: What is the most effective way of holding people accountable when they aren’t getting the results you expect of them?
Desired results don’t automatically materialize just because you expect the best from your people. Desired results are only achieved when you (1) clearly define those results, (2) diligently ensure that everyone involved is aligned and assumes full accountability to deliver the specified results, (3) frequently monitor progress toward each of the results, (4) constantly make needed course corrections along the way, and (5) remain enthusiastically engaged until all of the desired results are realized. That’s how it works. So, to the question above, if you’re doing all of that and still not getting the results you expect, what should you do? First, make sure you really are doing all of that by applying the Accountability Sequence—Form, Communicate, Align, and Inspect. If the Accountability Sequence is solidly in place and the desired results are still not forthcoming, find out why by holding an Accountability Conversationwith your key people. Determine exactly why they are not achieving the results you expect. Is the why about Motivation (willingness), Training (ability), Accountability (follow-through), or Culture (work environment)?
Consider the following example. A manufacturing company had been attempting to solve a serious, long-standing process design problem with little success. The VP of operations was frustrated with what he saw as an apparent lack of concern for the problem from his young engineering staff. When he finally took the time to hold Accountability Conversations with a few of his engineers, he discovered that they were not engaged because they perceived the operations staff to be resistant to their new ideas. As a consequence, their motivation for solving the process design problem was almost non-existent. When the VP challenged them to take another crack at the problem in collaboration with an experienced mentor from the operations staff, they solved the problem so well that the company not only increased productivity but also saved millions in operating costs. Once the motivation problem, along with the associated cultural barriers, had been addressed, the VP’s desired results were quickly achieved. Not surprisingly, the VP adopted a policy of using junior staff engineers and senior operating mentors to attack other issues throughout the manufacturing operations. As this example shows, don’t hesitate to use the Accountability Sequence and the Accountability Conversation whenever you’re not getting the results you expect.
Accountability Sequence, Accountability Conversation, and Accountability Community are all registered trademarks of Partners In Leadership, Inc.
Whenever you have a Key Expectation in jeopardy of not being met, take immediate action, before it’s too late. Begin by honestly evaluating whether your Key Expectation was effectively established in the first place by applying The Accountability Sequence—Form, Communicate, Align, and Inspect. If you discover that your Key Expectation was not effectively established with certain people along your Expectations Chain (the chain of people, inside and outside the organization, that will impact fulfillment of your Key Expectation), quickly reapply The Accountability Sequence to your Key Expectation.
Form—Key Expectations should always be Framable in the context of what matters most to the organization; Obtainable in light of resources and constraints; Repeatable up, down, and across the Expectations Chain; and Measureable in ways that make it “easy to monitor progress.” Repeatability is the call out here.
Communicate—The “Why,” “What,” and “When” of the Key Expectation must be clearly communicated and completely understood. A Compelling “Why” is the call out here.
Align—Everyone involved along the Expectations Chain must be aligned with the Key Expectation and make sure by asking them to rate their level of alignment on a scale of 1 to 10. Score It is the call out here.
Inspect—Never expect what you don’t inspect, but do it in a way that is agreed upon by everyone involved so that no one gets blind-sided. Mutual Agreement is the call out here.
If you determine that your Key Expectation was, in fact, effectively established, then hold an Accountability Conversation with those people along your Expectations Chain who seem most at risk of not delivering. Use the conversation to determine exactly why they are jeopardizing fulfillment of your Key Expectation—Motivation (willingness), Training (ability), Accountability (follow-through), or Culture (work environment). To learn more about the Accountability Sequence and the Accountability Conversation, we invite you to join the Accountability Community at www.partnersinleadership.com, where you can review actual client case studies.
The Accountability Sequence, Expectations Chain, Accountability Conversation, and Accountability Community are all registered trademarks of Partners In Leadership, Inc.
We all get stuck from time to time, wanting to give up, throw in the towel, or blink our eyes and be somewhere else. However, no matter how much we try to ignore or deny reality, we also know that our work must still get done. Think about it. How much of your work actually gets done on days when you don’t feel good or wish you could be somewhere else? Probably more than you’d like. Down deep, all of us know that, ultimately, we alone determine the course of our lives and the results we achieve.
Whenever you’re feeling stuck Below The Line, remember this: you can never get unstuck until you first acknowledge that you’re functioning Below The Line and paying a high price for it. Such acknowledgment gives you the perspective you need to get Above The Line—even though it can be a very hard reality to face. Here’s our list of ten telltale signs that you are stuck Below The Line; use them when you’re needing some additional help to face yourself and your difficult circumstances:
|•||You feel held captive by your circumstances.|
|•||You don’t listen when others tell you, directly or indirectly, that they think you could do more to achieve better results.|
|•||Your discussions of problems focus more on what you cannot do, than on what you can do.|
|•||You have difficulty confronting the toughest issues you face.|
|•||You feel you are being treated unfairly and you don’t think you can do anything about it.|
|•||You repeatedly find yourself in a defensive posture, giving excuses.|
|•||You spend a lot of time talking about things you cannot change (e.g., your boss, the economy, government regulations).|
|•||You avoid the people, meetings, and situations that require you to report on your responsibilities.|
|•||You frequently waste time and energy “boss or colleague bashing.”|
|•||You find yourself saying: “It’s not my job,” “There’s nothing I can do about it,” “Someone ought to tell him,” “All we can do is wait and see,” “I’m confused, just tell me what you want me to do,” or “If it were me, I’d do it differently.”|
If you detect any of these telltale signs in yourself, your team, or your organization, act immediately to help yourself or someone else acknowledge those excuses for what they are: impediments to accountability and results. Once this acknowledgment occurs, you and others can begin moving Above The Line, even when you’re feeling justifiably stuck.
Above The Line, Below the Line, and Accountability Community are registered trademarks of Partners In Leadership, Inc.