Leaders, Pain Free Journey to Engage Employee Accountability
by Kate Nasser | 16 Comments »
Leaders and managers ask the same persistent question: How do you engage employee accountability?
Many are excited to engage employees to be more creative and innovative.
They picture building accountability as hard fought battles of weight, responsibility, and blame.
Repaint your picture leaders and take this pain free journey to engaging employee accountability.
- Define accountability as a celebration of honor, ownership, and learning. Far too many see accountability as carrying the blame for mistakes. Why would employees jump up and engage that negative idea?
Honor employees contributions and they will honor their responsibilities.
- Support this definition of accountability with your behavior and communication in positive and negative situations. Finding fault stops progress; finding solutions ignites success.
- Abandon the no news is good news approach to leadership. Applaud incremental growth and smaller accomplishments. It builds interest and the confidence to be accountable. Practical Examples: Leaders, 12 Worthy Kudos to Spark Employee Engagement
When leaders speak only with criticism, employees will forever define accountability as blame.
- Illustrate accountability in pain free moments. Use the phrase “I take responsibility for not being clear or “I own that delay”.
What leaders say and live becomes the culture of the organization.
- Employees engage when they can see what’s in it for them. So, what does accountability do for the employees? Discuss it. Listen to their views on it. Open up to what holds them back from it and their ideas to fix it. A pain free step to accountability!
- Honestly address mismatches in job fits. If people are truly wrong for the positions they hold, their continued misses frustrate the team to the brink of finger pointing.
Prevent this pain with honest reassessment of the best job fit.
- End each day or week with: “What did we learn that improved our ability going forward?” With this practice, employees skip the fear of blame and the disease of perfectionism and become accountable for excellence.
Accountability doesn’t have to leave scars. It doesn’t have to come from a demanding leader constantly nagging employees to do what’s needed.
Create the opportunity and culture for excellence and watch employees engage and embrace accountability. It’s welcome and pain free!
I look forward to launching this journey with you. I will take you from inspiration to action!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
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Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service & experience, teamwork, and leading change. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
Your posts are really excellent! They touch in aspects of problems that exist but I’m not aware of!
We have unfortunately adopted the blame culture in our place. My manager is a kind of guy who only step in if something went wrong! If all ok, he just do nothing! He says, and that’s what everyone claims, that he appreciates our effort in maintaining a problem free process but he never shown it!
In my last project, I managed to finish it with my team by then in a record time (two months) and when I asked for a reward for our achievement, he said well you just got your reword by working overtime! Imagine!
No wonder why people tries to run away from being accountable coz it just means blame focused job!
I wish if I can send this to my boss but I could risk being blamed so I will keep it to myself lol
Thanks for the excellent post Kate 🙂 at least I know what to do with my people and I hope to be a better version of him when I take in his position in future 🙂
Hi Kate, Another nice post! Leadership, culture & “clear wins” matter much… when seeking engagement of any kind. Thank you & I’m trying to follow this for 2012 – “Let “what-went-right” ride shotgun & stick “what-went-wrong” in the backseat – I’ll bet you’ll travel farther…”
Very lucid points Kate! I like the common theme of discussion and positivity without ignoring problems. If leaders could get that going well, they would be making a valuable shift in their culture and engagement efforts. Great post!
These are some very good ideas. I think defining accountability and re-framing it in a positive way along with being consistent are two VERY big things. I say that because people need clarity and sometimes we need to over communicate to make sure there is clarity. And re-framing accountability in a positive way shifts the focus away from the burden of blame. Finally, you have to be consistent with how your approach to accountability (whatever it is). Hopefully it is one that is positive and includes consistent acknowledgement.
Kate — This is a really great topic to open up, and I totally endorse your sense that a better definition must include learning. I’ve watched many fights over accountability in organizations and almost always people use the term as a 50 cent word for blame.
This just covers up the messy and complicated problems that often must be solved, the ones where interpersonal dynamics are all mixed up with process or systems issues. These complex knots aren’t going to be resolved by people being more accountable in the classic sense of “if only THEY would do THEIR jobs.”
They are resolved by people recognizing that everybody plays a part in the problem and therefore everyone owns some part of the solution. This notion that “if only people would do their jobs” is a holdover from an orderly but pretty simplistic view of hierarchy and discrete individual work responsibilities.
Focusing on the accountability of others protects people from the interpersonal risks of dealing with the actual conflicts, failures, and problems for which “we are all responsible but no one is to blame.” And it protects us from having to look at our own participation in the problems we say we want to solve.
In this sense, for me the real opposite of accountability as a negative catch-all phrase is the positive experience of true collaboration.
I give you a huge thank you for adding the issue of “What can counteract the negative view of accountability? — True collaboration”.
Your insights on this post have expanded it with depth and breadth.
Your ideas and approach really resonates with me. It reminds me of a phrase I use;
if you want to change your organisation, change your conversation.
What you have provided is a great set of practical steps we can all take, in all aspects of our lives.
I like your saying John … it rings true in a common sense way. Thanks for sharing it here!
Nice work Kate.
It is so very true that building a culture of trust is key to developing engagement and increased accountability. Sometimes it is difficult for an organization, and its leaders to see behaviors such as blame as counter-productive. Often, they simply need a “replacement script” to begin changing their course. When they see the changes in their employees, they see the benefits. Thanks for the great options here.
Very insightful Kate!
I especially love this “Create the opportunity and culture for excellence and watch employees engage and embrace accountability.”
Really nice sentiment and something to think about moving forward.
I love this part of your post, “Honor employees contributions and they will honor their responsibilities.” And the quote Peggy Fitzpatrick pulled out as well, “Create the opportunity and culture for excellence and watch employees engage and embrace accountability.” And deeply appreciate all of the action steps you listed.
This blog is the perfect companion for “Why leaders need to practice compassionate accountability.” http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2011/12/15/why-leaders-need-to-practice-compassionate-accountability/
Thank you ~ As Always ~ For Sharing Your Powerful Insights!
A good teaching moment, Kate. Thanks. I have found that being clear about expectations and standards of performance is critical to get the job done with excellence. Leaders must always assess how connected they are with their followers and make changes accordingly. Showing employees that they care without blame, that we are all on the same page. I like to take those moments of a job not done well as a mid course correction that might require, once again, being clear about a particular goal. It indicates to staff that they are valued and cared for.
Great post Kate! I love number 4. Leaders have to illustrate and demonstrate accountability themselves. They are the culture, and have to realize that every small thing that they do has an impact.
Kate – Another great insight to ensure Accountability isn’t viewed, perceived as negative — because it’s not! Stop running from employee engagement. Leaders it’s part of your job! Keep the great ideas coming! L