The Best Ways to Hold Someone Accountable

The Best Ways to Hold Someone Accountable

From Sohail Ahmad

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Accountability – so important, yet so difficult to achieve! Statistics show that you’re much more likely to succeed if you have a partner holding you accountable. According to the American Society of Training and Development, chances of success go up to 95 percent when ongoing meetings take place with a partner to discuss progress.

If you are that partner and you have to hold someone accountable, you may worry about the best ways to achieve the goal. Motivating someone without pushing them too far or nagging all the time can be accomplished. Here are a few of the best strategies.

Set Clear Goals

A person can be held accountable only if all involved individuals know what the desired outcome is.

Take some time to set goals together. What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the timeframe? How often will you be checking it to track progress and make adjustments?

Determine milestones and the schedule for following-up with each other.

Everything you agree on should be written down. Just like in the case of crafting an online dating message, you have to write what’s been done, what still needs to happen and how much has been accomplished. Ambiguities aren’t in anyone’s favor and they should be left out of the communication.

Provide Clear Feedback

Now that the goals have been clarified, you will have to learn how to provide clear feedback on the progress being made.

For most people, this is probably the toughest part of holding someone accountable.

How do you share relevant information, how do you pinpoint shortcomings without offending someone?

Be honest without getting too critical or nitpicky. Good communication highlights both the positives and the negatives. Thus, you should deliver praise where praise is due. You should also pinpoint failures and the best ways to rectify these issues.

To make the feedback helpful, you should track the right metrics and base your comments on those. If a goal hasn’t been accomplished objectively, the person you’re interacting with is not going to be offended by the information you give back to them.

Be Consistent

The number one thing that accountability requires is consistency.

Enforcing rules one time and failing to do so the next time around will show the person you’re interacting with that you’re not that keen to track progress and ensure forward movement. 

It’s also very important to pinpoint and comment minor transgressions. Someone being late with milestone delivery a single day is still a transgression. When you know what the rules are, you should stick to enforcing them. 

Stop Sugar Coating Things

Sugarcoating things is one of the worst things you can do in a professional environment. Your unwillingness to be realistic can quickly backfire and lead to subpar performance.

Telling the truth is someone going to be hard. This is especially true in instances when you’re interacting with a friend or someone you like a lot. Understand the fact, however, that you’re not doing them any favors by making the truth less harsh than it is.

If you are aware of shortcomings, you should nip such issues in the bud. Otherwise, they could lead to much more widespread consequences that will be difficult to rectify in the future.

There’s a big difference between being critical and providing constructive feedback. Your job is to stimulate progress. You can accomplish the goal by acknowledging an issue and sharing the best way for this problem to be overcome.

Follow through with Consequences (When Necessary)

Holding someone accountable often means enforcing measures in the event of a failure. That’s probably the most unpleasant part of the process but it’s still essential.

If people don’t face the consequences when they fail, chances are that they’ll keep on doing the same mistakes in the future without learning a valuable lesson.

Creating discomfort when goals aren’t met doesn’t necessarily mean featuring harsh penalties. Negative feedback is sufficient for most people and they’ll take note of issues the next time around. On a few occasions, however, you may have to take away privileges or enforce other kinds of sanction to rectify the situation.

This is especially important for someone who has failed multiple times already. A single mistake can be forgiven. Chronic problematic performance, however, will necessitate more serious measures.

Build Trust

A mutually-beneficial relationship necessitates trust. Trust has to be built consciously with every single step that you make.

Don’t be accusatory because you’ll make people defensive and mistrustful. Share the reasons for every single decision, ask questions and take feedback into consideration. If people feel that their voice is being heard, they’ll be much more likely to trust you.

By building trust, you can also create a culture of accountability among larger groups of people like coworkers and departments. You set the tone for communication. If people like the model, they’ll be much more likely to use the same one among themselves.

Holding people accountable is not easy. Sometimes, you’ll have to be the bad cop. Sometimes, you’ll feel like people are going to hate you for the decisions you make. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about delivering the information in the right way.

Try to be helpful and offer constructive feedback. Recognize accomplishments and praise them. Such a neutral and unbiased approach isn’t easy to accomplish but it is the one bound to deliver the best possible results.

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