In coaching many managers and leaders, I find that they could benefit from building up their “holding others accountable” muscle.
In order to be skillful at holding others accountable, one must be conflict proficient.
The reality is most people like to avoid conflict. It’s understandable. As people, we all like to be liked. We don’t want to cause upset to ourselves or others. However, the truth is, avoiding conflict can be very costly to an organization.
If your managers are not holding people accountable they are thieves and liars. That’s a rather bold statement. Let me explain.
Your managers are hired and compensated to hold people in the organization accountable to a set standard of performance. If a manager is not doing that and cashing their paycheck, that is stealing from the organization.
They are liars because if they are not holding people to a set standard and letting things slide. That is the same as implicitly telling them things are OK. That’s lying.
It’s all but impossible to hold people accountable unless we can successfully engage in conflict to ultimately get to resolution. However, with that being said, there is a way to be conflict proficient and minimize the conflict point.
As the leader you share information and expectations of what successful completion of the task or goal looks like. Once information and expectations are shared, you must then get role clarity and commitment. Once this is achieved, you have function and productivity.
However, life will show up. Various situations and circumstances will present themselves that you could not have accounted for in the initial discussions. These unforeseen issues may prevent a person from meeting their prior commitment. The mistake most managers and leaders make is they tend to blow past the breakdown. They may attempt a feeble passive aggressive comment, cover for them by doing it themselves, or simply ignore it and move on. All of which are conflict avoidant.
Here’s how you can successfully address the issue. You just have to remember the acronym I-SING.
I – I am feeling ... State how you are feeling as it relates to the person’s not meeting their commitment. Stating how you feel is not attacking another. Most will not become defensive as you state your feelings. e.g. “George, I’m feeling a pinch.” “I’m feeling forgotten.” “I’m feeling disrespected.” No one else can dispute how you are feeling. They are your feelings and you get to feel them.
S – State the facts as they relate to your feelings. e.g., “I am feeling a pinch in that you said you would have the report to me by 3 p.m. today in time for my 5 p.m. meeting. It’s now 4:59 p.m. and I don’t have a report from you as you promised.”
I – Inquire. Find out what prevented the person from keeping their commitment. Evaluate it.
N – Negotiate what behavior you expect. e.g., “I appreciate you were asked by Mr. Jones to help him trouble shoot the Smith case. Next time something like that comes up would you be willing to let me know at that point you may be late with meeting your commitment to me so I can make other arrangements if necessary?”
G – Get agreement. – This can be as simple as asking, “Can I count on you to honor that?” You will want to build in consequences and get clear understanding and commitment to those consequences if the renegotiated commitment is not met in the future.
Next time the cart falls off the tracks remember I-SING. It works with co-workers, suppliers, partners even within the household.
Here’s to being conflict proficient and getting more of what you want.
Make it up, make it fun and make it happen!
Machen P. MacDonad is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 273-8000.