You had a great plan, but it didn’t work.
All too often it is because somewhere along the line, someone failed to do what they promised and no one called them on it. They were not held accountable.
Lack of accountability is a huge problem in organizations. In fact, Patrick Lencioni names this as one of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team in his great book by that title.
What can you do to master holding people accountable? Check out these ideas from a recent Harvard Business Review article.
*Don’t Make a Request of Your Entire Team. Often, a good idea surfaces during a team meeting and there is excitement! “Yeah, let’s do that.” Don’t assume that someone is going to take the initiative. Ask a specific person to take the lead.
*Make Sure the Your Request is Very Specific. Next, make sure that you are very clear about what you are asking the person to do. “Thanks Rob, just so we are all clear, please do the following (specifics) by (date).” And include a time of day if that is needed. This sounds simple and basic but is all too often missed.
*Explain the Context. Once again, don’t assume the person you are asking understands the background. Maybe the boss is leaving on vacation soon and this is why you need the request fulfilled so quickly. There are a whole host of reasons that could be helpful for your colleague to understand about the context of the request.
*Counter Vague Responses. Sometimes you might here back “Sounds good,” “I’ll get right on it,” or “I’ll see what I can do.” Do not accept these! Say something like “Just to be clear, will you have completed what I requested by that date and time?” If they hedge, then ask them for a specific date and time that will work for them and negotiate an agreement. Don’t let the vagueness continue.
*Follow Up! Keep track of what people have promised to do. If they do not hit the deadline, then follow-up with them. If you have a lot of deliverables to track, you may want to ask someone to assist you.
Few things can be more frustrating than having a strong plan that fails because someone did not follow through on a promise. Use these tips to make sure your team members stay on track for success.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Ringel, R. “Mastering the Art of the Request,” Harvard Business Review online, August 4, 2023.