- Purpose– Remember why you decided to make these changes. Focus on the benefits for yourself and others.
- Patience– Expect that you will fall back into old behaviors under stress. Give yourself a break and ask others to do the same.
- Practice– It takes about a year of consistent practice, feedback and accountability to sustain a behavior change.
- Plan– Who will be your feedback and accountability partners? How will you deal with setbacks?
Often we avoid engaging someone in a conversation because we worry that they might feel hurt or get defensive. They might refuse to talk or get emotional. But Fierce Conversations can’t be dependent on how others respond. If you know something must change, then you’re the one who must change it.
- Name the issue
- Provide a specific example of the behavior or situation you want to change
- Describe your emotions about this issue
- Clarify what is at stake
- Identify your contribution to this problem
- Indicate your wish to resolve this issue
- Invite the other person to respond
- Listen and ensure that the other person feels understood
- Reach resolution and determine how to move forward
- Make an agreement and commit to holding each other accountable
Two clients contacted me recently to explore options for virtual team building because travel bans and budget constraints are making a difficult situation even more challenging. They want to go beyond standard conference calls to bridge the distance between people in multiple locations.
Video calls are another option that can create a more personal connection. In the same way that we set ground rules for an in-person team building session, the team needs to decide how they will interact on calls. Here are some things to consider in making this an effective tool:
Include an icebreaker activity to help people get to know each other. Check out 50 Digital Team Building Games
- Determine how to ensure everyone’s participation
- Constructively voice differences of opinion during the call rather than afterward
- Define the boundaries for confidentiality
- Establish accountability and timelines for action items
In between calls, pairing team members on special projects or initiatives can create camaraderie. Rotating the responsibility for leading the call is a great way to develop new skills and generate different ideas and approaches. Find more ideas at HBR Making Virtual Teams Work.
Reinforcing the Right Thing
If you have ever read a book on parenting, you may remember this advice, “Catch them doing it right.” It was a great reminder that we shouldn’t spend all of our time correcting our children when they make mistakes or misbehave. We also need to focus on reinforcing the behavior that we want.
This is also great advice for leaders. When I meet with a new coachee’s boss to discuss their 360 feedback and development plan, we talk about how to help the coachee change behavior. Holding them accountable is the first key to success. The second is letting them know when they demonstrate the desired behavior. Unsolicited positive feedback can be a great motivator when the coachee isn’t sure whether she is making any progress.
At this time of year when we take a moment to remember our blessings, I am grateful for the opportunity to know and learn from so many wonderful people. I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is filled with all the things you enjoy.
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 email@example.com