Accountability: It’s Really About You

One of the toughest things for leaders to do is to hold their employees accountable. Why? Confrontation is uncomfortable. We’re uncertain how things are going to play out.

So how do you constructively confront an employee and reduce the uncertainty and discomfort? Here’s a roadmap for the accountability conversation:

  1. Convey the Common Purpose. Show how employee expectations are aligned with the organizations’s goals. Emphasize that you and the employee are allies, not adversaries.
  2. Confront Reality. Place the facts on the table. Don’t judge the employee’s motivation or their attitude. The focus should be on the performance not the person.
  3. Offer Support. To engage in a real conversation about performance, you need to disarm the employee. Ask what you can do to help them. It will put them at ease. You don’t have to agree with all their suggestions, just use your best judgment.
  4. Clearly State Your Expectations. Fuzzy expectations lead to fuzzy results. Clear expectations take the form: what do you expect by when.
  5. Rigorously Follow-Up. This is the moment of truth. Before you leave, establish a follow-up meeting. Now the employee knows they need to take action.

Accountability isn’t easy. But following a structured process can give you more confidence and make it less uncomfortable.

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