3 ways to build accountability on your team

If your staff is missing deadlines, not following through on work, not taking responsibility for mistakes, or simply not producing high-quality work, you’ve probably got an accountability problem. At Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I talk about how to fix it.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. Alter_ego*

    I’m glad you pointed out the need to be specific. We have one project manager who loves to give us false deadlines, and non specific deadlines. So the calander will say that a job is due on Tuesday. And sometimes that means the job is going out at 5 on Tuesday. Sometimes it means it’s going out at 7 am Wednesday. And sometimes it means it’s just a progress set, and it’s not going out until Thursday but “I wanted to make sure you got it done on time”, which is something we love hearing after having stayed until 1 am the night before to get it finished for Tuesday. And this particular manager gets really huffy if you ask for clarification about when, exactly, a project is going out, because he sees it as us trying to get away with procrastinating and doing as little work as possible, rather than acknowledging that every engineer is working on up to 5 or 6 projects at any given time, and we’re just trying to prioritize our time, not procrastinate.

    1. Mike C.*

      I hope you and your coworkers continue to push back against this sort of behavior. Directly address these feelings of “procrastination/doing as little work as possible” because you’re all adults and professionals and should be treated as such. Part of that is being trusted enough to manage a deadline.

      Ugh, what a jackass.

  2. Mike C.*

    I often find that the lack of explicit expectations takes the form of “well it’s common sense/everyone knows this/you’d have to be an idiot not to get this” type attitudes. Then rather than just blurting out the answer (aka the expectation) they get stuck on that loop and get increasingly upset that the employee isn’t “getting it”.

    Look, there are likely tens of thousands of items most of us would call “common sense”, but we’re all missing a few. Stop being held back by the idea someone should have already known, and just tell them.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If employees have worked in a few places they realize that sometimes there is more than one way to do something. Some companies prefer method A and some companies prefer method B.

      What I LOVE (not) is when a boss insists that there is NO other way to do something and then informs me that “No, other companies do not use another method.” Really? All I asked was do you prefer I use method A or B? That is all I asked, I will use the method you say to use. No need to lecture, honest.
      This discourages people from asking questions.

  3. voluptuousfire*

    Alison, I love your practical advice. My former manager kept her expectations to herself to a certain extent. She would often would indicate things by the tone of her voice or hint at what she wanted but never actually said how things were to be handled. One could very easily miss what she was getting at and not doing what was expected was a mental check in the “no” column. She was brand new at managing people and I don’t think really had the chops to manage people well. (Not due to inexperience. She was great at problem solving and logistics but didn’t possess the ability to manage relationships with subordinates very well.)

  4. Steve G*

    Problem is, some of us need advice on how to keep managers accountable. when a manager does work their subordinate should be doing and/or avoids their larger or most inconvenient responsibilities but holds everyone else up to a very high standard, morale takes a hit. Not that I am talking about any specific situation….:-)

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