Whom would you call accountable? Who commit and don’t back off. Right?
But how many people do you know who really keep their promises? The numbers might not be very encouraging.
“Don’t worry, I will take care of this project.”
“I will get back to you within an hour.”
“I will be there in 10 minutes.”
Quite often people say these, but even these simple tasks either appear monumental to them or maybe they just don’t care to follow through. In the end, you DON’T receive what was promised.
Most of us struggle to call people on their broken promises or commitments because it is less stressful to say nothing and do it ourselves.
But when you decide to not call someone on their ill-managed commitment, you are just aggravating the problem. Brace for more broken promises, excuses, turning up late, missed deadlines. Therefore, more frustration and stress.
So how do you hold the people accountable? I am sharing six ways that I am sure will help you as a friend, as a leader, a teammate or even a family member.
Set Clear Expectations
The first step to holding people accountable is about setting clear expectations. You need to be clear about the results you are looking for. Whether it is putting in mediocre work or consistently missing deadlines, being clear with ‘serial offenders’ about expectations ensures a great start.
How can others know what you want if you are not clear about what YOU want?
Have a genuine conversation. Ask the person to summarize the important pieces, the expected outcomes, and how they are going to achieve it. This will make sure you end up on the same page.
Once the conversation gets rolling, ask questions to know what the problem is. Are they feeling overworked and overwhelmed? Are deadlines and goals clearly defined for them?
Get into the details and understand why expectations are not being met. Only after this can you correct the root problem and reset expectations.
Don’t make any assumptions. Even if you understand what the problem might be, hear the person out, and let them give out their reasons.
What you might have thought of as the main problem may be just a minor distraction.
Be Straightforward About the Impact of Not Keeping the Word
People often don’t know or underestimate how their behavior impacts others. You need to be clear about how their lack of commitment affects you and others.
Maybe you had to clock in extra hours to finish what they didn’t. Maybe it affected the whole team and you had to face the flak. Now, you are disappointed and will have to think twice before trusting them again.
Communicate in such a way so that they don’t feel bad. The motive is to make things better in the future, not put someone down.
If somebody has let you down, it is vital to renegotiate what you want and when you want it. The person may have failed to deliver due to lack of skills or unclear deliverables. Renegotiating helps set the stage for less disappointment and greater accountability.
You very often get the best if you refuse to accept anything less.
Though it gets uncomfortable when you hold people accountable to their word but everyone including them comes out better off.
Reward the Positive and Tutor the Negative
Not everyone fails to deliver on each of their promises. Do they?
So, if you think that keeping promises should not be rewarded because well, ‘aren’t promises made to be kept?’, you are missing an opportunity to foster good behavior.
Acknowledge those who show punctuality, consistently manage their commitments, and meet or exceed expectations. When you reward accountability, you let others know what you want to see more of.
For those who flounder on their commitments, take the time out to coach them. Some just need extra support.
Remember that at the end of the day, you are dealing with humans, people who have families, responsibilities, and bills to pay.
When you are trying to hold people accountable, it can lead to uncomfortable confrontation and wrong implications. But rather than letting the conversation end on an unhappy note, make sure you put yourself in other person’s shoes and finish with empathy.
Let them know that you understand how they are feeling and why they underperformed. Support the corrective action they undertake and extend help when required.
Commitment is about honoring your word and saying no to anything less from others. But unfortunately, it is impossible to expect everyone to have the same amount of dedication as yours. So, if you ever get frustrated at unreliable people, know that it won’t do you good. What will help you though is remaining empathetic and calm and yes, tips I have stated in this blog.