Conversations for Accountability

Every time someone you mentor or coach expresses a desire to accomplish something professionally, you have an opportunity for a conversation about accountability. That's because the best way-and sometimes the only way-- to help those you are developing stay on track and achieve their goals is to create a structure for accountability. The word "accountability" often has a negative connotation, because it gets confused with micro-management, which isn't the same thing.

Micromanaging is when a manager is too involved with the details of their team members - nagging in a way that is not supportive. Being held accountable is a supportive sign to your employee that you care enough about their work to ensure it's done efficiently and produces outstanding results. This support enables the employee to grow too.

Sometimes the most effective way to get the accountability process started within a group is to offer team coaching. It's best to start with 360-degree feedback-both for the leader and each of the team members. In this way, every member of the group knows in what areas others see room for improvement and in what areas they are already meeting or exceeding expectations.

Each time the group meets, the leader can share what he or she is learning and how they are using it in their day-to-day work. They can also talk about what they are doing to improve as the team leader. Doing this encourages team members to share the same kinds of things-what they are learning about the company, its clients and projects and about themselves. Most importantly, team members will share what actions they are taking to improve both themselves and the quality of the work they produce because their leader is role modeling this behavior.

This kind of open, honest discussion creates a culture of accountability, one where it is okay to talk about what needs to be learned and what really works best. By engaging your team members in positive ways and building caring relationships, you will be able to explore what matters to others as it relates to a meaningful future. Having ongoing check-in meetings will enable you to track the progress of the group and create meaningful accountability conversations.

Begin coaching meetings or mentoring sessions with the questions: "Where would you like to begin today? What is most important, given what you currently have on your plate?" I know that after I ask that question and the person I'm coaching identifies what issues are most important to them, we also revisit their list of accountabilities and goals to gauge how we, as a team, are doing.

Possibly the most important thing you can do for your team is to demonstrate your own personal accountability. It requires you to be able to manage yourself, plan, organize and communicate effectively. But perhaps most important-and most straightforward-it requires you to do what you say you will do. If you are a leader who wants to develop stronger accountability muscles yourself, give me a call. Let's talk about a coaching process that will give you measurable results.