Do you find that holding people accountable makes you uncomfortable? Oh, you start out fired up to hold people to their commitments. You ask clearly. You get them to restate the request. You set a date and time for completion…..and then they don’t come through.
Wait, you did everything you were supposed to do, now what? First of all, congratulations! Most people don’t create such excellent and clear accountability. You are probably really upset, angry or dismissive of that other person right about now. And, may I suggest uncomfortable with taking the next step.
Why is that ? Do you see it as you will have to become “the enforcer” or the “bad guy”. Do you begin to doubt your right to get what you asked for?
This is the tricky part. Mike Scott* says this is the time when you don’t ask why – Don’t ask why they didn’t do it. Ask them to identify their next step. Ask for a recommitment with a new time/date. Further, you ask: “Can I count on you for that?” That puts it back on the other person. Okay, how uncomfortable will it be to ask?
Let me guess you might be squirming all over the place thinking about asking for a commitment. Why? You are totally committed. Perhaps because in our society, we don’t like people who call us out, who make us look bad. We know the likable person is the one who lets it go. And, maybe, subconsciously, we want to be liked. In business, we can’t excel if we don’t do the hard stuff. That includes being uncomfortable in service of our mission.
So, think about your mission. You really want to succeed. Completing this request is part of it. In the context of serving the mission, you may find you are okay with having the difficult conversations needed to hold people accountable. You might want to repeat the goal to them as you ask for the renewed commitment. Don’t make it punitive, don’t make it personal, make it about the mission. You can do this.
This week initiate one difficult conversation about accountability that you have been putting off having. Work through the discomfort. It will be easier next time.
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Image courtesy of Performance Based Results. Survey done by HBR