September 11, 2001: A day in history that changed the world and history as we once knew it. Looking back on that day, many of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. But the memories are all different; they’re all unique experiences. One person in the room may have been at work, watching it on the news and calling family members; the other may have been in 2nd grade, confused watching teachers try to hold back their tears. For some, it may just be a terrible memory; but for one four-star general, the events of 9/11 (along with other military experiences) brought about leadership challenges that he never expected.Read More›
2 Minute Read
When you’re in a position of authority, people have a tendency to tell you what you want to hear; or at least be very “calculated” about how they share feedback with you. An executive coach can provide more honest and direct feedback.Read More›
4 Minute Read
Picture this scenario: People at work are unengaged. You can feel your direct reports whispering about you around the water cooler. Sometimes you feel walked on. And your team thinks that they can get away with anything…because you won’t do anything about it. Does any of this sound familiar?
Having crucial conversations with your team is hard. We know our employees have good intentions. But sometimes, they make mistakes, or we need to correct performance issues. And holding them accountable for missing the mark can be extremely uncomfortable. You don’t want to hurt feelings and you don’t want to create a combative environment. But issues arise when we, as managers, are scared to ask our teams to take responsibility for their actions. Here are some quick dos and don’ts to keep in mind.
DO: Foster communication.
Before you even try to hold people accountable for their actions and goals, you need to create an environment that encourages communication. Find out something about your team members: their hobbies, their interests, their family, their values. Create a base level of trust.
- DON’T: Be their best friend. We get it. It is fun to have friends at work! And it shows that you care about your team. But there is a line. It becomes difficult when you must go from friend to manager and actually hold your team accountable.
DO: Set clear expectations.
The first step is to ensure that your employees know exactly what success looks like. What is the outcome you’re expecting? How should it be accomplished? How will we know that it was accomplished? Work to create alignment and focus within the team.
- DON’T: Expect your team to know everything. Let your team know that it is okay to ask questions. And sometimes people don’t have questions until they get into the weeds of the project.
DO: Make it measurable.
In order to set a clear goal, it must be measurable. If it isn’t measurable, how will you ever know it is finished? Think about these questions: How Much? How Many? Who is involved? How long will it take? What is the desired outcome?
- DON’T: Be vague. Or create goals that require interpretation. Your opinion or perspective might be different from your employee’s.
DO: Explain the potential consequences.
If the job doesn’t get done correctly or on time, how does that impact your clients? Your team? Your company as a whole? What does that mean for the person or people who didn’t get the job done correctly? Set the precedent upfront that you are fully expecting to hold people accountable.
- DON’T: Make accountability taboo. Why is it even taboo anyway? Start the conversation, create a discussion, respond to concerns, and know when to draw the hard line.
DO: Train, coach, and be available.
You can’t just give your team a project and then cross your fingers and hope that it gets done correctly and on time. You need to ask the questions to see if your team has the skills to get the job done. And if not, you need to train them. You will also need to coach your team and encourage problem-solving. Start by asking questions like: “What have you tried so far?”, “What has or hasn’t worked?”, “What could you do to fix that?” Be available when they need you, but don’t provide all the answers.
- DON’T: Micromanage. Is there anything worse than your boss standing over your shoulder watching your every move? You feel stuck, like you’re doing something wrong and second-guessing yourself at every turn. Do you think your employees feel any different? It is okay to let them make mistakes because mistakes lead to coaching moments, which leads to a more independent workforce.
DO: Give consistent feedback.
Be specific and give feedback in multiple avenues. Consistent feedback sounds scary. Who has time for that?! You do. Feedback does not need to be a formalized “sit–down” anymore. Stop by their desk, send a text or email, have a video conference or give them a quick call. Be specific in your feedback. What was done correctly? What wasn’t what you were expecting? And how can they get back on track?
- DON’T: Only focus on the negative. When we do this, we start keeping score. And we become that manager that no one wants to hear from.
By remembering these simple actions, you can create a relationship with your team that allows them to know that you are there for them; that you want them to succeed; that you will give them the tools to do so; and how uncorrected poor performance will impact the team and the organization. At the end of the day, “I tried” isn’t always the best business model. Results must still be achieved. And everybody wants to be a part of those results. How can you set the stage for your team to be successful?
Watch this video on accountability to find out how to hold people accountable!
4 Minute Read
We’ve all been there. And some are still there. Maybe this will remind you of the people on your team. In a spot where what was once a career is now just a job – a means to an end. All purpose is gone and people don’t feel valued. Negative behaviors have become the norm. It feels like some have given up. People start to feel stuck or are keeping their eyes peeled for a new job…far, far away from here. What happened?
The short answer: YOU could be the problem.Read More›
4 Minute Read
Not long ago, a Kindergarten teacher outlined the day that a typical kindergartener would have. She explained that her students spend about two and a half hours per day on math. The kids have twenty minutes of recess time, twenty minutes for lunch, and no nap. Then, they’re typically sent home with homework. “Tests are critical for the success of the district,” she said. “And children who come to kindergarten with out going to preschool first, are just unprepared.”
… Wow, that’s a lot to take in for a five-year-old.Read More›
3 Minute Read
Do you remember Candyland? You know, the board game with the colorful slides and lollipops. Many of us played it as kids…but have you ever played it as an adult with a toddler? Typically, they start the game off really strong, making sure they are counting the colors on the cards, paying attention to where they are at on the board, and working really hard on not cheating.Read More›
2 Minute Read
Our country has gone through some of the most trying times we’ve seen in years. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma mark the first time two Atlantic Category 4s have made U.S. landfall in the same year. Together, Harvey and Irma are estimated to have caused between $150 billion and $200 billion in damages, which is more than the $160 billion that Katrina caused. Between the loss of lives, the major flooding, and an unknown number of people affected by these storms, we can easily call this a catastrophe.Read More›
4 Minute Read
Doris was the type of employee you could set your watch to. She arrived at 7:50am each day and left no later than 5:10pm. Her day was spent doing administrative work—much of it routine, identical to the day before, and the day before that. The phone would ring from time to time and there would be the occasional office party. But for the most part, each day was remarkably indistinguishable from the day before.
Through the years everyone got used to her reaction to change. If her schedule was interrupted, you needed to give at least a 48-hour notice. Larger interruptions, such as painting the office or a software upgrade would require a series of one-to-one meetings, coddling, and accommodation. A request to increase her workload or take on a new challenge would typically be met with a one-word response, “No.” That usually meant someone else would have to pick up the slack.Read More›
2 Minute Read
We’ve all been there. Things sometimes just aren’t going as you hoped. You know business could be better. You know your team could be performing better. As you see it, others are doing things in an illogical way or maybe they just don’t get it. This can be frustrating and not very motivating. So what can you do about it?Read More›