"KLR Consulting's Leadership Excellence Evaluation was a real eye opener for us. Their excellent communication style and simple, straightforward and easy to understand workshops and materials were a big hit with all levels of employees. You can count on KLR Consulting to deliver a product and service that not only meets, but also exceeds your expectations."
Fedele Bauccio, CEO
Bon Appetit Management Company
Teams that hold each other accountable are more productive & successful.
Commitment from team members is one of the building blocks of effective teams.
Plan for your best year - tips and strategies to make the most of your year.
Kristi posts to her site about once a month and occasionally contributes to other blogs. If you would like to be notified when new blogs are posted, please subscribe to our newsletter.
(posted: February 28th, 2017)
As a leader, one of the best things you can do for your organization, firm, or company, is to create highly-functioning, effective teams and a collaborative culture.
Effective teamwork contributes to higher levels of employee engagement, improves morale and helps to reduce turnover. That, as leaders know, benefits the bottom line.
To develop a truly effective, successful team requires putting foundational elements in place that build on each other to strengthen the team. The model I use to illustrate this idea is the one that Patrick Lencioni developed for the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team - A pyramid, with each behavior resting on the ones beneath.
Accountability is the next level on the teamwork pyramid, and the topic of this post.
Joseph Grenny captures the essence of peer accountability in his Harvard Business Review article, "Our research shows that on top performing teams peers immediately and respectfully confront one another when problems arise. Not only does this drive greater innovation, trust, and productivity, but also it frees the boss from being the playground monitor."
Within the most dysfunctional teams, there is no accountability at all, while in mediocre or average teams, leaders and managers hold team members accountable. However, in high performing teams, teammates manage the vast majority of performance problems with one another.
Accountability can be hard, and uncomfortable, and requires courage, especially when people are new to it. You, as the leader, need to model accountability, ideally starting within your executive team. When employees see that their leaders are held accountable, they are more willing to embrace accountability themselves.
Once leaders commit to accountability, defining team expectations and norms will allow peers to practice holding each other accountable in a safe environment. Use the following questions to start the discussion on your team. Depending on your team dynamics, you may be able to combine this discussion with the one mentioned previously in the post on constructive conflict.
"The test of a manager is not how good he is at bossing, but how little bossing he has to do."
~Mary Parker Follett
1.) What is Expected?
People need to know exactly what they are expected to do, what their collective goal is, and what the successful outcome looks like. They also need to know what the consequences might be if the goal is not met. Be sure to define who owns which roles and what each function is responsible for accomplishing. If you are very clear on responsibilities, expectations, and costs of not delivering, it is easier for team members to hold each other accountable.
2.) What Behaviors and Actions do We Promote?
Team members need to work together to identify what is acceptable. Some of the things your team might want to talk about include: not holding back in meetings, avoiding back-channel politics, full engagement in meetings, being on time to meetings, being on time with commitments and deadlines, and staying off devices during meetings. Each team is different, so you may have other issues that are important to clarify. Discussing, understanding and committing to your team norms in advance helps team members feel comfortable calling out these behaviors.
3.) Public or Private?
Should an accountability issue be raised publicly or privately? Higher-performing teams are more likely to do this in public than in private. It benefits the whole group to see that team standards are being upheld and team members often learn from observing the process. But it should be done with respect, adhering to the norms of the team. See the "style" question, below, for more on that. When this is a new experience for a team, it may be difficult to do publicly at first. In this case, some role-playing may help build confidence. Of course, there will always be some conversations that are just too sensitive to do publicly.
4.) How Long Can We Wait?
Team members must consider a time frame for holding one another accountable. Should teams talk about it the moment an issue comes to light? A day later? A week later? There isn't a hard-and-fast rule here, because teams vary so much in the nature of their work, their schedule, whether they travel or not, etc. However, a good rule of thumb is that allowing an issue to go unaddressed more than a few days will make it more difficult to discuss. Decide what approach suits your team best and stick to it.
"At its core, accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and then to stand in the moment and deal with their reaction, which may not be pleasant."
5.) Style - How Do We Talk About It?
Team members tend to be more comfortable when they know how their colleagues are going to deliver feedback. Will teammates be careful not to offend? Will they be blunt and direct? Will the feedback come out of anger or a desire to help? Your team should decide on a style that works for you. Newer teams will probably want to start out more courteous and respectful. Teams that have worked together effectively for a long time often have a style that appears more confrontational to outsiders, but that fits the teams' expectations and norms.
The key to successful peer accountability is that everyone on a team feels empowered to hold other team members accountable, according to the above agreements. For accountability to become part of the culture, avoid making exceptions, and don't let one team member be above accountability.
The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is the result of the partnership between best-selling author Patrick Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) and Wiley (DiSC Personality Profile). Kristi Royse and KLR Consulting are authorized partners of this innovative team development program. The 5 Behaviors program includes five core modules, individual profiles, participant handouts, team report and interactive facilitated team activities. It is effective, simple, personalized, proven and unifying.
Sign Up for our monthly newsletter and never miss another post.
Images licensed from 123RF