“The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.” – John Mason Brown
Holding people accountable is a skill you can learn. In a world where you get results through teams and teamwork, enforcing accountability plays a key role to success. Even if you’re just holding yourself accountable to some results you want in your life, it helps to know the ways to enforce accountability and why there can be a lack of accountability. A lot of it comes down to clarifying the outcome, setting expectations, and then addressing motivation, skills, and feedback.
In the book, Project Management For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) , Stanley E. Portny shares 10 ways to hold people accountable:
- Involve people who really have authority
- Be specific regarding end results, time frames, and expected levels of effort
- Get a commitment!
- Put it in writing
- Emphasize the urgency and importance of the assignment
- Tell others about the person’s commitment
- Agree on a plan for monitoring the person’s work
- Monitor the person’s work
- Always acknowledge good performance
- Act as if you have the authority
In my experience, that’s a pretty good list with great coverage. To really appreciate these, you should also know why people fail to deliver based on what you expect:
- You had unrealistic expectations.
- They never really agreed to it.
- They didn’t know when it was due.
- They didn’t internalize the priority of it.
- They didn’t know what good looks like – there weren’t any tests for success.
- They have bad productivity practices and they simply lost track or got overwhelmed.
I find a healthy way to stay accountable is to check yourself against the following questions: “Who does what by when?”, “What are the tests for success?”, and “How will we follow up?” I’m also a fan of having a shared plan in plain site so everybody can easily see what’s due when and who’s doing it.
What are the ways you hold yourself or others accountable when it counts?
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Photo by Alaskan Dude.