One of the most difficult things to do in a business is keeping people accountable. It is awkward and uncomfortable when you have to follow up with employees who do not respect the commitment they made when they were being engaged in the business. It can be a little hard having that conversation with your team, but there are clever ways you can do it without losing your temper or annoying them.

Let’s take a look:

Clarify Expectations

To be on top of things and stay on the same page about what is expected, be sure to clarify expectations from the beginning. Let them know their roles and expectations before or during project execution. You could ask some clarity questions like, “You do realize I expect to get weekly reports every Friday at noon, don’t you?” This will make them understand what is expected of them and they will strive to be at par.

Get an Explanation

When people do not meet expectations, try and get an explanation from them. Maybe something came up, or there was a misunderstanding during the delegation of duty. Also, they could be having a lot on their desk. Try and have a conversation with them to get to the root cause of it all. When people feel that you care about them, they become more accountable that you will not have to follow up with them in the future.

Share the Impact

Let people know what impact their lack of commitment has, not only to you but to the organization as a whole. Their failure to deliver on time may have forced you to leave everything else and do the work they were supposed to do. Let them know this and also explain that their failure to deliver will affect your ability to trust and depend on them and may make it difficult to give them more opportunities in the future. 

Renegotiate Commitment

Make it clear to everyone that integrity, when it comes to work, matters so much to you and that you care about people keeping their word. Show them that you expect nothing less than the utmost diligence when executing duties delegated to them. People treat you how you allow them to and when you make it clear from the beginning what you expect, they will respect that.

Call Them Out

We generally have an innate desire to be liked by everyone we interact with, hence the fear of speaking up when they get off the track. Everyone will not like you; the more reason you need to learn to call people out on their misbehavior. Ask them why they did not deliver what they committed to deliver and listen to the explanations they give as you both work on a sufficient way forward.

Make Specific Statements

People tend to be more reliable when the expectations are specific rather than general. If, for instance, you expect a salesperson to hit a target within a specific period, make them understand that the responsibility to hit that margin rests solely on their shoulders and not on you or the team. Once they understand this, they will strive to be accountable.

Make Regular Follow-Ups

Following up with people is an obvious yet overlooked activity. To build accountability and get the most out of your team, you have to check in with them regularly. You could do this through meetings, phone calls or emails. Regular check-ups ensure you create alignment and steer your team in the right direction. 

Coach them Through their Challenges

In order to improve accountability among your staff, you, too, need to be dependable. They have to know that they can always come to you with the challenges they face at work and that you will address them. When a challenge arises, coach them through it and make sure they understand the scope of their work and what they are responsible for.

Let them Know the Importance of their Role

To achieve success in business, people tend to work as a team and not as an individual to encourage accountability. Explain to every member of the team the crucial part they play in the success of the business. When people realize their importance as part of a team that is focused on a greater good, they become more committed and you will not have to follow them around.

Be Consistent

If you need to see more commitment and integrity in your business, be consistent in everything you do, be it follow up, being clear from the start, or coaching. Consistency bears fruit by allowing people to learn from you. Once they see the commitment in you, then they will understand you expect nothing less. They will return the energy you send out.

Give Measurable Figures

It is quite frustrating to fail to meet a target. This is why it is important to give measurable figures or figures that are achievable. It is OK to be optimistic but not to overdo it. Give clear, measurable and objective targets that can be reviewed weekly or monthly. 

Give Open and Clear Feedback

It is important to give feedback to the people you work with, whether positive or negative, but more important is to make it clear and honest. This way, they will be able to understand if they delivered results as expected or not. Feedback also shows whether they are on track if they are a good team player or not because it can go both ways. 

In reality, we do struggle to assess the performance of people in the business, and that is why we fail to speak candidly about the truths that need to be spoken. To get people to be more accountable, you have to be able to call them out for their lack of commitment and provide reliable resources. You also need to coach them and offer any new knowledge and context they might require to complete a project.  If you are finding it hard to do this, don’t hesitate to hire a professional on an interim basis to do the job. For instance, if it’s on finance matters, get a fractional CFO to take a good look at the financial health of your company and how your employees are handling the sector. The person will be able to point our errors and advise you further on the best strategies that your employees can adopt to take your brand to the next level.