After all these years, I’m convinced of the value and necessity of holding people accountable. Additionally I think the key to effective  accountability is holding them accountable for their actions and behavior, not the results, as they don’t control the results. I ask people I work with and coach to set goals in terms of behavior, not results.

Dan Rockwell shares some excellent ideeas

Guest Post by Dan Rockwell

82% say they have limited to no ability to hold others accountable for delivering on expectations. 91% say improving accountability practices is a top development need in their organization.*

10 principles for holding people accountable:

#1. Strong relationships.

Holding people accountable begins with relationship.

  1. Do people believe you’re in it for yourself or the greater good?
  2. Do people feel like you’re on their team?
  3. Are you rowing-with?

#2. Clear expectations.

Agree on goals, don’t simply impose them. Agree on urgency and priority. Is this a “must do” or is it a “good thing to do”? Clarity challenges. Optional gets neglected.

#3. Confirmed skill.

It’s foolhardy to set high goals for incompetent people. What makes you believe they are capable?

#4. Motivation to succeed.

Do results matter? You’re pushing a rope when people don’t care.

#5. Ownership.

Who owns the job?

#6. Agreed on deadlines.

Set reasonable deadlines for novices. “What needs to happen for you to reach this goal? Set reasonably challenging expectations for experts. “What does a challenging goal look like to you?”

#7. Scheduled check-ins and consistent feedback.

#8. Opportunities to learn and develop.

Focus on learning and growth. Don’t treat people like tools.

#9. Recognition for success.

#10. Meaningful consequences for failure.

Consequences are often the missing ingredient in holding people accountable.

  1. First failure. Your response to first failures depends on competency. Novices need more room to fail than experts. Review expectations. Should you adapt?
    Provide feedback. Is training called for? Do they need a mentor or coach? Define what happens next.
  2. Second failure. Work with novices. Bring consequences on experts.
  3. Third failure. When you tolerate failure, you promote mediocrity. People lose respect when you don’t stay true to your word.

Accountability frustrates leaders when they don’t bring consequences for failure.

What have you learned about holding people accountable?

What’s troubling about holding people accountable to you?

Still curious:

How to Hold People Accountable with Compassion

How to Hold People Accountable when You’d Rather Eat a Worm

*How to Actually Encourage Employee Accountability (