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World Wide Group™

How to Hold Others (and Yourself) Accountable

An arm is outstretched with three sticky notes on it. One sticky note is purple and says, “to do,” one is yellow and has the word “doing” on it, and one is bright pink with the word “done.”

Holding others accountable to their work, and even their actions, can be tricky. It requires following up and following through, addressing conflict as a compromise and chance to work together, and stepping up when you might want to just put your head down and work. However, having clear accountability tools woven into the thread of your business allows you and your team to stay on track toward your goals. There are a number of strategies you can implement to ensure that everyone is on the same page when prioritizing tasks and anticipating deadlines.  

1. Incorporate software systems.

If you only have a few tasks going on and your team is relatively small, you might be able to get away with listing deadlines and workflow on a spreadsheet or using sticky notes on a white board. However, larger groups with more complicated projects may benefit from software that aid in smoothing out workflow, such as Trello™ or Asana™. These programs are designed to allow for fluid collaboration between team members. They have the bonus benefit of giving you feedback when you finish a task (like a unicorn flying across your screen), which triggers the happiness button in your brain!  

2. Encourage your team with rewards.

Set clear deadlines and hold others accountable to them! If they achieve them, awesome! Celebrate wins with something that will make your team members feel amazing, such as:  

  • Praising them publicly in front of the rest of your department or company.
  • Treating them to something they’ll find valuable, such as a special coffee drink or business logo-ed mug (which often works double to create an extra source of pride and loyalty to your brand).
  •  Give them a handwritten thank you card, acknowledging their efforts.
Someone is putting an orange sticky note on a wall while another person watches on and gives feedback. There are other white pieces of paper on the wall which appear to be the outline of a project the two teammates are working on together.

3. Motivate your team with results.

What gets measured, gets achieved. So, it’s important that you analyze data and put actual numbers to your success drivers. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a way of clearly outlining what you will be using to determine if work is considered successful.  

 

If your team isn’t achieving their objectives, first ask yourself whether you clearly laid them out. Did you specify: what task you want completed, why this task is necessary, how you want everything done, and when you want it accomplished? If so, well done! If not, start redefining your goals for your team. Now you can assess the quality of what was accomplished. An example of a KPI might be:  

  • Customer satisfaction: Are your clients happy with the service they’re receiving?
  • Customer retention: Are the same clients coming back month after month?
  • Revenue growth: Are you making more money each quarter?

The more specific these are, the better. For instance, you could dive deeper into “revenue growth” and put exact numbers on how much you would like sales to increase in February compared to January to reach your goals.  

Three faces are drawn onto a black chalkboard with matching-colored squares next to them. One face is green and smiling, one is orange and indifferent, one is red and frowning.

4. Provide consistent feedback.

Don’t expect your team to change (or improve) their actions if you don’t give them continual feedback. Your observations can be stated in writing but are often even more effective when given face-to-face. That way, there’s no risk of a miscommunication occurring if someone misinterprets your tone. When giving feedback, consider the “sandwich method,” which involves deliberately “sandwiching” your more constructive feedback between two instances of praise. If you only focus on the negative, you risk overwhelming and offending your team instead of empowering and motivating them.  

A group of people are scaling a steep, rocky mountain together, wearing different colored hiking backpacks.

5. Lead by example.

Most importantly, hold yourself to the same high standards you expect of your team. There’s nothing more deflating than having to watch a leader give themself a pass on something others get reprimanded for. Instead, set the gold standard. Show up early and work hard! By achieving your own goals and tackling gradually bigger projects, you’ll motivate your team to do the same. If your team is struggling, look to yourself first and commit to inspiring others with your energy and enthusiasm 

 

While holding others accountable might be something you struggle with, it’s an important enough issue to tackle headon. Setting clear expectations will empower your team to take ownership of projects and expedite the growth of your business. 

Setting an alarm, creating a digital to-do list, or establishing an accountability partner are all great places to start holding yourself accountable!

What's one thing you can do today to help hold yourself responsible to your goals? Let us know in the comments!
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