My client was frustrated because her direct reports didn’t have their business plans ready. She extended the deadline and sent them reminders, but they still didn’t get them done. My client extended the deadline several more times and sent additional reminders. She couldn’t understand why this was such a problem.
When I asked, “What are the consequences of not getting the business plan done on time?” my client realized that she had not established or implemented any consequences. Her message to her subordinates was that the deadline was flexible. My client also communicated that she would be responsible for helping them remember their commitments. Neither of those were messages she intended to convey.
As we focused on creating a different outcome, my client committed to explaining her new approach to each member of the leadership team. She would expect them to keep their commitments and she would not be sending reminders. If her subordinates met or exceeded my client’s expectations, they would be recognized and compensated accordingly. If they did not meet her expectations, they should expect corrective action.
How are you holding your team accountable? Consider the following suggestions:
- Communicate expectations clearly – have each person confirm their understanding.
- Be specific about positive and negative consequences – be aware of what motivates your subordinates and use that to create incentives, but know what you can and will enforce if they don’t perform.
- Follow through – unless you do what you say you will do, you aren’t holding people accountable.
I invite you to evaluate your approach to holding people accountable. If you feel that you could improve in this area, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org