As a leader do you have difficulty confronting your team members and bringing accountability to them? Many of us do. Just how can a leader get his point across without bruising the relationship he or she has spent so much time building? Allow me to recommend a three-point strategy:
1. Approach: First and foremost take the time to think about your approach, timing and outcome. Your timing is crucial so wait for the right moment to confront your team members by ensuring your temper is in check, then you will be better able to discern an appropriate time to confront. Timing is everything when confronting someone.
Second, take your personal style into consideration. I recommend that you use tact and apply wisdom. For example, when you confront someone apply grace, which means that you are “for” them rather than “against” them. By doing so you put people at ease, knowing that you have their best interests in mind. You do this by hearing their side of the story first rather than “assuming” they did something wrong. Your can start by asking, “What happened…?” or “Help me understand why you made this decision”.
Your communication style also comes into play, so take note of your non-verbal communication. Remember to lean forward like you are interested in the discussion, smile, listen attentively and show concern. The key to accountability is to get the right answers for an honorable “win-win” solution.
2. Answers: One of the purposes of holding your team members accountable is to gather information by seeking answers, which eliminate ambiguity. The right answers lead to clarity; accountability is incomplete without this component. You do this by asking probing questions and by cross examining all parties involved. Don’t assume anything nor take sides. Instead, gather the real facts before making a judgment call. Remember that your leadership image is at stake. Too many of the same mistakes over time will reduce your trust and ability to lead others.
3. Alignment: The purpose of accountability is to align people with the vision, mission, values and expectations of the organization. One-way to accomplish this is to ask, “Do you understand where we are going?”, “Are you with us?” Accountability is about aligning a person to the original design and purpose of the organization, it’s philosophy and standards. Once an employee is aligned then you can move into a spirit of unity and cooperation to accomplish tasks as a cohesive team.
The ultimate goal of accountability is to help your team members complete their assigned responsibilities as to produce the best results possible, which will enhance personal, group and organizational effectiveness. Organizations that produce better results are usually organizations that have leaders who understand the importance of confronting poor performance. If accountability is administered correctly it builds a culture of excellence.
As a leader you cannot avoid accountability; it’s a part of life but you can make it more palatable for both you and your team members.
Do these points make sense to you? If so, which ones have you applied when holding others accountable?