One of the most uncomfortable things we can do is to hold ourselves accountable for something. As leaders, it’s something we must do. It’s part of the leadership skillset.
Yet often, in talking to clients and people in the workplace, I find accountability is quote often missing. No one is accountable for anything.
“It’s not my fault…”
“The machine broke down.”
“They didn’t pay any attention to me.”
How often have you heard of leaders (or maybe worked for one) who blame the team for everything that goes wrong?
That’s a sure-fire way of destroying team morale and productivity along with their trust.
We know that communication is the most important skill of all, especially when you’re leading a team but if communication isn’t working, where do you put the blame?
Well you know, what? It’s not about blame. It’s about accountability which means doing something about correcting the problem.
If you want your team members to learn to hold themselves accountable for their part of the communication process, you need to show them how to do it. YOU have to hold yourself accountable and be seen to do it.
There are three things you can do right now to bring greater accountability to your team’s communication processes.
Observe the communication flow
If things are going wrong or messages aren’t getting across it means the team communication methods aren’t effective and there’s clearly a problem somewhere along the line. To fix this, track the flow of communications, looking for a bottleneck or system downfall. Talk to your team members to see if they’ve spotted a problem or can offer ideas for improvement. If you find it’s falling down on your behalf, ask them for feedback from them on your communication.
Are they getting the information they need in the format they need it?
Accept that you may be part of the problem
Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake or misjudgement on your part. Your people will love the honesty. Say something like, “Perhaps I didn’t give you enough information…” or “I’m sorry I rushed that explanation.” Show your human side and accept responsibility when you should.
Design new communication standards or norms
When you know what’s not working, you can correct it. As a team, agree to a new and better process. Part of the process should include everyone agreeing to be accountable for their part in communications from now on.
Accountability isn’t about blame or negative consequences. It’s about acknowledging a problem, finding a way to solve it and growing from it. The focus is on improvement.
Don’t be one of ‘those’ leaders who never admit to a mistake. Take this opportunity to show what accountability really means and get your team following your example.