Leadership / 03.31.21
Help Team Members Be Accountable
It is no fun following up with others to make sure they are being accountable and doing what they agreed to. The thing is, it is near impossible to force or even bribe team members to consistently produce top-quality results. But what if your team members chose to be accountable? I believe two things make this possible:
- We all want to be respected, proud of our work and know our contribution is making a difference.
- Most leaders want to be great leaders but have never learned how and, worse, they may have unintentionally learned poor leadership skills.
In this article, I share opportunities leaders can use to help team members be accountable, and feel respected, proud and so much more.
One of the most successful ways to help team members be accountable starts with creating a corporate culture people want to belong to. Over the years, I have coached many leaders and written extensively on leadership and the value of intrinsic motivators. I’ve seen firsthand that even if your corporate culture is less than ideal, every leader can still create a high-functioning microculture of proud employees.
In studies I ran as well as research by other professionals, the following three intrinsic motivators are at the very top of the list, and all encourage accountability:
- Experiencing pride in our work and sense of accomplishment: Generates feelings of achievement and purpose.
- Being noticed for our competence, creativity and/or for learning a valuable skill: Generates feelings of recognition.
- Having impact and being relevant: Generates feelings of responsibility and making a difference.
So, how can we use these three motivators to inspire others and help them be accountable?
The following are six ways to help team members be accountable. As you read through the list, consider that, as a leader, your work is less about being a “boss” and far more about being a “coach.” As you move forward, imagine how you can have coaching conversations instead of performance review conversations, even though the topic or subject matter stays the same.
#1. Align People’s Passion With Their Work
This means hire the right people for the right work. Far too often we hire or promote people who are the right people on paper but not the right people for the work. For example, if you are hiring someone for a customer service position, be sure they naturally demonstrate empathy when they communicate.
Use a standardized interview assessment process like a BEI (Behavioral Event Interview) to hire people who mesh well with your corporate culture and values and will also naturally feel a sense of pride and achievement from the work they will be doing.
#2. Know What Motivates and Inspires Each Employee
We are all unique and want different things. Some young employees may want relevant experiences and training, while others may be starting a family and want job security and workplace flexibility. Some senior employees may want more strategic responsibility, while others may aspire to take on a mentoring role. The simple fact is that if we want to have great impact, we should not treat or reward everyone the same way.
Of all the employees I have met, there is one common denominator: They want to work for an employer and a leader who respects them and who helps them be proud of what they accomplish.
#3. Be Clear With Expectations
Give employees a chance to discuss, influence and set their goals. By sharing what you expect and making them part of the discussion, you are allowing them to take responsibility and accountability for their work. Another way to be clear with expectations is to let them know that when they want to talk through a problem with you, they should also bring a solution to discuss.
When employees clearly know what the expectations, timelines and measurements of success are, surprises can be eliminated, their accountability can increase and overall frustration can decrease. After you have set expectations, continue to spend time with them at regular intervals to make sure you are both on the same page (see #5).
#4. Help Employees Understand the Question ‘Why’?
When people know why their work is important, they are likely to be more accountable for getting it done on time and as expected. And, at a team level, they will be more inclined to hold each other accountable.
For example, when someone knows the recommendations you asked for are going into the proposal for the CEO and that is why you need it on Monday, 99.9% of employees are going to be proud of who will be reading their work and will want to make sure you get it on time and with the detail you discussed.
This helps engage intrinsic goals like having influence and making a difference.
#5. Stay in Touch
You may have information that will help them course correct toward their goals. At the same time, they need to know you are there to provide guidance and to trust you will help them with (not blame them for) any challenges they may be having.
I used to have a boss that would keep information to himself. This made it impossible for the team to support the strategy, which made our work less effective, created more waste and, of course, we were all very frustrated. Note: He also had a high employee turnover rate, and you can imagine why.
Often, knowing you are counting on them and you are there to support them will often help your team meet and even exceed your expectations.
#6. Recognize and Celebrate Their Creativity and Success
When your team delivers high-quality work, take a moment to recognize it; praise them immediately. Recognition is one of the most important promoters of accountability for not only the project they are working on but their overall outlook and interest in/commitment to future projects.
You can never be too busy to make sure people feel proud just like you can never be too busy to hold people accountable. When you see behavior that is (or is not) in line with expectations, you have to respond immediately. Any delay diminishes the reward or adds to the damage being done.
Note: These six opportunities to help team members be accountable are very real and very inexpensive motivators that help build a very loyal and very accountable team.
Great teams thrive when everyone trusts each other and feels safe to challenge each other, disagree and perhaps even argue as they respectfully share each other’s expertise.
Over the last four weeks, we have explored the symbiotic link between trust, communication, commitment and now accountability. I truly believe you now have some solid tools that position you for success. Just remember, begin by building a corporate culture of trust and respectful communication.
While change may be difficult at first, the beauty is that being able to build trust and help team members be accountable is like rolling a snowball down a hill. As trust and understanding build, momentum quickly takes over and accountability has greater impact. As time goes by, employees also begin to hold themselves (and each other) accountable.
Bruce Mayhew is a professional development trainer, executive coach and conference speaker who has spoken at a number of INTIX Annual Conferences. Mayhew specializes in soft skills like leadership and new leadership development, motivation skills, generational differences, difficult conversations training, change management, time management and email etiquette. Learn more at www.brucemayhewconsulting.com.
Tags: Leadership , Workplace , Contributed Content