Accountability is not a bad word, it’s a conversation.
Regularly we get calls from managers and small business owners that may want to fire someone or they aren’t sure what to do because they believe that the employee isn’t doing what they think they are supposed to be doing. The first question we ask is…. have you talked to them? Typically, the answer is no and the manager or business owner struggles with understanding why the employee doesn’t know what they should be doing. We get it and we are here to help.
Not many people like confrontation and, unfortunately, accountability has a negative connotation to it and can be perceived as confrontational. Believe it or not, people want to know what is expected of them and they need structure. They also want to know when they do and don’t meet expectations as well as feedback related to how they can meet expectations if they aren’t. If employees aren’t provided the guidance and defined expectations, they will not know what is expected and will do what they think should be done. Inevitably, that leads to a disconnect between what the manager or small business owner is looking for and what the employee actually does in their role.
When someone veers off track, holding them accountable with immediate feedback is imperative for the overall productivity of the company. When people aren’t held accountable, it has a ripple effect that causes liability for the company. This is where the importance of structure around the job description and employee handbook come into play. These two things are foundational for setting expectations and empowering employees to do well in their role.
Holding people accountable mitigates risk and liability for the company because it follows a consistent standard. Not to mention, employees will respect the manager as being a better leader for providing feedback and support rather than letting the employee flounder in their role or feel that they don’t have the support of their manager.
It is important to remember that holding people accountable isn’t being mean or confrontational, it is being a leader and supporter because it is all in how the message is delivered. When giving feedback it is important to focus on facts and give specific examples rather than providing opinions and generalities.
Accountability discussions include:
Discuss the specific issue
Identify what isn’t in alignment with expectations
Be specific about what needs to be done to realign to expectations
Get bye-in from the employee along the way by asking their thoughts and what they may need, if anything, to help them meet expectations
Accountability is a key responsibility of every manager and business owner and holding people accountable is good for everyone, employees and the company. Have questions around how to hold an accountability conversation or how to set expectations? Send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help.