Holding People Accountable

Holding people accountable for getting the job done is one of the most misunderstood and difficult jobs a Manager needs to do.  There are a few things that typically get in the way of ensuring employees do what is expected of them and do it well:

  • They do not know how it fits into the vision.
  • They do not see the priority.
  • They do not know how to do it.
  • They do not like to do it.
  • The Manager does it for them since he or she wants it done “just so”.

Let’s address these points one-by-one to provide some simple ways for you to eliminate these issues should they occur.

  1. They do not know how it fits into the vision. When an employee is asked to do something, change something, or modify something, it is imperative that you provide the reason for the request, how the request will benefit the employee, how the request will benefit the company, and an understanding of the resources and timeframe needed to accomplish the request.  This helps the employee see how what they are being asked to do matters.
  2. They do not see the priority. If an employee does not see the priority of the request, they will tend not do it or put it off.  Ask the employee to consider the reasons why you are requiring the action and hold a discussion about these reasons.  In the discussion, emphasize the importance of each reason the employee provided and the unintended consequences of NOT doing the action.
  3. They do not know how to do it. Some employees do not know how to do what you have requested and are ashamed or fearful about bringing that up.  You must assure the employee, by modeling the behavior, that everyone (including you) continues to learn and that technical assistance and training is available if they need it.  You must be savvy in how you determine if it is a training issue or a defiance issue.  Training can be fixed.  Defiance must be removed.
  4. They do not like to do it. Sometimes employees just don’t like doing some of the tasks associated with their positions.  If that is the case, the tendency is to put it off or ignore it until it become a problem.  If possible, you can give the employee some leeway to work with others to partner on joint tasks. If that option is unrealistic, you can help the employee get the tough things done and out of the way so they can concentrate on the things they like to accomplish.  In addition, you can make sure you provide extra praise and incentives for doing the “disliked” tasks.
  5. The Manager does it for them since he or she wants it done “just so”. Whatever you do, do not do the job yourself.  This helps no one…not the employee, the organization or YOU.  You must let go and allow people to take a different road to the same destination.

Holding people accountable is about reframing tasks, holding conversations, sharing expectations, and allowing people to see their impact on the big picture.  Go for it!

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