Empowering Asian Mindsets through Coaching
Empowering coachees to be More Accountable
How a manager assigns responsibility, how he empowers people to achieve and what he does when team members speak in languages of low accountability, determines the behaviors of his team. Let us define what accountability is before proceeding.
Very often, team members give reasons for non-achievement of their goals by attributing it to external factors; indirectly implying that it was not their fault. The lack of accountability in this type of behaviors is contributed by two sources; the leader and the team member.
The leader’s contribution to the situation
The contributing factor from the leader has a higher impact on the level of accountability in his team members.
For example, if an employee fails to deliver a commitment (completing a report on time, completing a project on budget, getting delivery of products on time) and he provides a reason for the performance; some managers respond empathetically in this manner:
a. “Ok, make sure it is on time the next time.”
b. “I understand. Please monitor it closely in future.”
c. “It’s ok, I know you have put in a lot of effort and at least we have it completed.”
When the manager uses words such as “It’s Ok”, “I understand” etc, the manager might be sending the wrong message out. While the above may convey that the manager is empathetic, it certainly does not encourage taking personal accountability on the results.
The opposite is also true. When the manager reprimanded his team members each time something is not delivered as agreed; the team member become defensive and offer excuses or reasons for the failure.
The Team member’s Contribution
Sometimes no matter what the leader does, the lack of accountability will still be displayed by certain team members. The good news is that it is only a small percentage and the leader can use other approaches such as counseling to help them.
The Coaching Solution
It is all right to show empathy but the importance of accountability should also be stressed. This will help the team member learn from their failures. Failures are great teachers. A manager might say: “I understand that you couldn’t deliver the report on time because …. What can you do differently if you are faced with a similar situation the next time? How can we get this report out on time?
By stressing the last point, we put the message across to our team members that accountability to promises and results are more important than offering valid reasons for non-delivery of results. As a coach we first evaluate our contribution to the situation and take appropriate steps to rectify it. Some questions that we can ask ourselves are:
1. How am I contributing to this situation (low accountability) unknowingly?
2. What am I doing or saying that has given the coachee the wrong impression that I accept low accountability?
3. What can I say or do differently when the coachee does not take accountability of the results the next time?