Radical Accountability is a practice of strategies and behaviors that creates an unwavering responsibility for getting done what matters most. Here are three of the best practices:
1. Don’t Avoid the “F” Word
Many people are offended by the “F” word, and why wouldn’t they be? Saying it makes people uncomfortable.
Now, before your mind goes too far with this, the “F” word I’m referring to is “fire.” Employees hate being fired, and most managers despise being on the delivering end of this news. However, letting someone go is often an act of compassion.
If someone is not meeting expectations, and the interventions you’ve employed are not changing that, then it’s time to let go. By firing that individual, using the most compassionate communication methods you can, you actually engage an even more powerful “F” word, “facilitation.” When it no longer makes sense to continue someone’s employment, this facilitates their moving on and yours as well. Actor Jerry Seinfeld, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Coach Bill Belichick all got canned during their careers. Yet, these firings became the impetus that allowed them to reach greater successes.
So, go ahead, when it’s time to let someone go, fire with compassion. When you do, you may just be creating some opportunities for those people to experience some other “F” words, such as another job that’s a better FIT or a life opportunity that is simply FABULOUS.
2. Suffer No Fools or Victims
A dear friend of mine recently shared details of her daughter’s whining about her current circumstances. Being the ever confident and highly competent mom, she did not allow Molly to pull her down into the clutches of a victim spiral. Instead, she pointed out that, while not everything about the situation was of Molly’s making, she had done nothing to try and rectify the problem.
While there are real victims of crimes even people who have been impacted by some of the most serious of offenses, such as rape and violence, often choose to rally above their circumstances. Victimhood is a state of mind, not a perpetual state of being.
Radical Accountability requires us to take responsibility for the events in our lives at work and at home, even when we have not caused them. Leaders who are committed to Radical Accountability don’t tolerate corporate victimhood and, as a result, create a culture where employees are less likely to engage in self-pity, recriminations, and remorse.
Suffering is optional, including the foolishness of a victim mentality.
3. Manage Your Nice Person Syndrome
NPS–Nice Person Syndrome–is a “condition” most managers have that causes inconsistent accountability. To help you assess if you have NPS, answer the following questions:
- Are staff not held consistently accountable in your firm?
- Do you come up with justifiable reasons when expectations are not met?
- Are reprimands or terminations delayed or do not happen at all?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you have at least a mild form of NPS. Don’t worry, it’s not terminal.
To succeed as an employee in most jobs, you have to be a nice enough person (or able to fake nice) to build relationships. These same nice people end up as managers and, as managers, it does not feel nice to hold other people accountable. That’s why virtually every manager has some degree of NPS. The nicer you are as a person, the worse your NPS tends to be.
Sharon, a manager from Michigan, took this to heart and immediately began watching for specific instances where her NPS showed up. “I was amazed how many times each week my NPS was running the show,” she said. To combat this, Sharon began some coaching with me and we discussed specific strategies to counter this issue. “The most important thing you shared Scott was that I am not responsible for my first thought, but I am responsible for my next action. My first thought is often how much I dislike holding people accountable. My next action was to do it anyways because, if I don’t, I will be contributing to their failure.” Within three months of our work together, she had improved the productivity of her team by more than 40%.
The important thing to recognize is that feeling discomfort at holding other people accountable is normal, with reprimands, layoffs, and firings feeling even worse. Life is full of things we don’t like, yet we do them anyways. Even though it may not feel good, holding others to a standard that will help them succeed is the right and compassionate thing to do.
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