Recently, I completed an emergency coaching session with a leader from Montana. They needed help in how to hold a team member accountable. When someone does not do what they said they would, you have to take more action. Not knowing how to hold your people accountable is a common theme that many leaders struggle with. A great leader looks at themselves first and evaluates what they can do better, and in return, their team gets better. Here are some phrases I passed along to guide them in the right direction.
"Is there any reason it can't be done this way?"
If the job or task is not negotiable, in other words, it must be done a certain way, ask them to explain their thought process. Asking them this simple question opens the door to hear how they are approaching the task and allows them to hear exactly what you expect of them. Being clear about your expectations sets the standard for how others work for you. Remind them, “It is not what you want but what the job/customer requires.” It's easy to get caught up in how you want the job to be done and forget about the job/customer's wishes.
"Do you realize if you fail to correct the problem, your decisions impact my decisions?"
Sharing the honest (and sometimes brutal) truth with your team shows them the importance of their actions and their word. By sharing what you are experiencing from someone, you're giving them resources and new knowledge that they may need to be successful going forward. Telling them, “Your choices impact my choices?” shows the importance of their actions and how it affects others.
"What do you plan on doing to prevent this situation from occurring again?"
Guide the team member into creating a plan of action. By writing two or three sentences on the changes they will make, you as the leader can hold them accountable to their own written words. Review and initial the plan together, resulting in both parties are in agreeance. Initials represent kins in the game. The team member has now documented and signed off on what they plan on doing differently.
Why might you be asking the team member versus telling them? People generally bring more energy to what they're saying. By thinking and speaking for yourself, you learn and understand more efficiently. Asking opens up conversations, potentially new ideas to arise, and for both parties to be heard. As a leader, allowing your team to answer questions lets you quote them should they not follow through.
With a plan in place, stay clear on what you expect, follow up regularly, and continue to share your honest feedback. Holding your team to their word breeds trust among everyone. It allows people to count on one another. By strengthening your leadership skills and holding others accountable, you create an even stronger team.
It’s not easy being a leader. Leaders Are MADE, Not Born.