Accountability is as Easy as One-Two-Three

Why is it so difficult to hold people accountable for their results in today’s workplace? Because it requires follow-through and tough talk. Confrontation can be challenging, and some leaders avoid it at all costs. And it could be costing you plenty – in lost revenue, high turnover and people problems.

With most hard-to-have conversations, it’s the anticipation that gets you. You may worry about it all night, maybe even lose some sleep. Your mouth may feel dry as the person approaches. You may need to clear your throat a few times.

Usually once you launch into the talk you’re just fine – especially if you’re prepared. And once the conversation is over – well, it feels like a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders. And things will actually start getting done the way you want them!

I can’t make those first few moments of discomfort go away, but I can give you a three-step process that will guide you past it.

1. Have clearly-defined mutual expectations – First and foremost, as the managing partner, leader or CEO of the firm, company, department or organization, it is you who must be clear about what you expect. If you’re unclear, the other person has no hope of understanding.

It’s crucial that you have the other person to recap what he or she heard you say, so that both parties are crystal clear and there’s no room for error. You can’t leave the meeting with one person thinking red and one thinking green. Then you don’t have clarity, you just have confusion.

2. Bridge the gaps between expectation and reality – There will usually be some gaps between each person’s skills, experience and resources and what you are expecting them to do. So once you’ve clearly expressed your expectations, then it is time for the other person to voice his or her requests for the things needed to fulfill your expectations (such as resources, training, development or people).

You can’t just toss people out there and ignore their challenges and stumbling blocks. You need to have a clear developmental plan (preferably one that’s written down) about what is stopping or blocking that person from meeting the expectations. If they’re at a 7 out of 10, what will it take to get them to a 9 or 10?

Then, in subsequent accountability meetings, that becomes the focus of your conversation. You keep coming back to it and making headway, instead of sweeping it under the rug. It is your responsibility as the leader to assist people in their development so they can close their gaps and fulfill your expectations. In turn, they will feel more satisfied with their work and will get the results you’re looking for.

3. Follow up to ensure continued development and accountability – Follow up is the accountability piece of the accountability system, and it happens when you keep meeting your people on a regularly scheduled basis, you keep asking the tough questions and you keep your word about the consequences of inaction.

Use tools to help you structure your accountability conversations and track the details. You want to be able to say things like, “So, Greg, you were going to read this article about delegating and have a conversation with your three direct reports. How did that go?” Then offer your support for getting past any stumbling blocks or challenges. As the leader, it’s not your job to do things for them, it’s your job to empower them to develop their own capacity for success.

Accountability doesn’t fall from the sky or happen by itself – you need all three steps of this process to have your expectations of the other person to become reality.

Which of these steps are you doing well with? Which steps are you lacking? Which action steps do you need to take to carry out this process and get what you want from your people?

If you want to bridge the gap between your expectations and the results you’re seeing from your people, the Get More Clients NOW and ForeverTM program can help. Click here to find out more about this remarkable sales, marketing and accountability program.