The most challenging behaviour to master with regard to affirming your team and building engagement is getting you and them to embrace accountability. This has several layers of meaning that need to be extracted so that you understand what I mean by accountability. Certainly it means monitoring and holding your people accountable for their KPI’s or performance objectives but it also means being vulnerable as a leader as well as getting your team to be vulnerable around behaviour dealing with team performance such as admitting mistakes, needing help or just saying sorry.
Accountability is Hard!
It is not by accident that embracing accountability is not often written about. I won’t sugar coat it, this is the hardest behaviour to master. In fact, statistically this is the biggest challenge that leaders face across all the other behaviours that they need to develop. We all tend to get uncomfortable with idea of calling someone out for a behaviour issue or a performance issue.
If you are like most of us (and I mean most of us) you are not going to want to hold that team member accountable for a negative or non-productive behaviour. Rather you will probably make note of it during your meetings or say something to others in passing to others on the team or in your department. Regardless of how you try to spin it this is indicative of a lack of respect as there is nothing respectful about withholding information from a peer that could help them improve their performance.
Accountability is Affirming
The biggest affirmation you can give your team or staff is to hold them accountable. If you think about it from a personal perspective wouldn’t you want to be told that something you were doing or not doing was not only noted by your peers but was impacting their ability to do their jobs as well?
This will date me a little but with respect to walking in that mutual vulnerable trust let me use this old adage – “Only your friend will tell you when your fly is open or your slip is showing.” As difficult as it may seem, the idea of holding each other accountable for behaviour that impacts the team has to be done and is one of those indicators of a strong and cohesive team.
Accountability is Respectful
Once you have your team tracking their own metrics around their performance it is vital that you hold them accountable. What that does NOT mean is walking up and looking at their charts tracking their metrics and tearing them "a new one." What is does mean is asking them to show you how they are doing, getting them to explain the highs and the lows (and they will want to given a safe environment) and asking them what their plan is to improve the problem areas they have identified. You can also keep the door open to them should they decide they need help - but let them tackle their issues first. A healthy team will come to understand that truth and embracing accountability will come easier as they practice it and it is ultimately the highest form of respect.
No it never gets easy, just easier and once you have experienced working on a team that is cohesive and healthy and that practices embracing accountability you will wonder how you ever managed to get things done any other way. And what’s more, it will be rewarding, enriching and fun! So tell me, how accountable is your leadership and your team?
Performance Leadership – Think About It!