Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

It is difficult to have sustainable success by forcing people to be accountable. It is better to create the motivation and culture so that staff and team members want to be accountable. If properly done you can discuss results, build pride, and change behaviors. Noticing failures and offering help to someone struggling can build a sense of pride in the team member. However, by avoiding we only have continued failure. Doing nothing and avoiding accountability is not an option if we want to create growth through improved results.

How does a manager hold members of the staff responsible for performance? What about an employee who needs help but fears asking for help? The results can be devastating when we fail to have accountability discussions.

The book, “Crucial Confrontations”, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer really talks about this topic. How do we handle missed commitments, failed promises, and bad behavior regarding our staff, our boss, our spouse, our children, or any other relationship?

The accountability conversation is a goal planning process. Help your team align with organizational goals by selecting their own goals and taking ownership for results. The components of this process include understanding your WHY, the benefits of achievement, and the consequences for failure. Then probe to find the root cause of the failure. Next communicate where the promise has not been fulfilled or where the disappointment occurred.

I had the opportunity to test the accountability issue recently with one of my restaurant chain clients. We were doing cascade meetings of the results of an employee engagement survey. The staff had identified things that made it harder for customers to do business with the restaurant chain. They also felt they were not informed on certain things that affect their ability to do their job.

Here is how they will fix these things, get the staff engaged, and hold them accountable. Here is also how the staff will want to be accountable.   Management will invite the staff to work on goal planning for the chain. Part of goal planning involves identifying the possible obstacles to attaining the goals and then brainstorming for all possible solutions. Who is better to talk about obstacles and solutions than the people who are closest—the staff. The next step will involve outlining action steps and assignment of duties. Staff and management will work on this together and agree on who is accountable for what.


In the end this will result in a double win for staff and the organization. The staff has a say and understands the values and goals of the organization. But the staff is a stakeholder in this whole process. There is shared responsibility with management. Both management and staff are fully engaged. When everyone has accountability, positive results are assured, and everyone shares the success.

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