In this series, I’ve focused each individual article on a step to building a strong and cohesive team. In the event you have not seen the previous articles here are the links for you to catch up:
Now that the team’s foundation is solid, with everyone committed to the team’s mission and course, the challenge now becomes how team members can hold each other accountable.
In my workshops, a common question that arises is, “How do you hold a colleague accountable without making them feel like you are attacking them?” Before we can address this head-on, let’s look back to a portion of our foundation approach.
How do you hold a colleague accountable without making them feel like you are attacking them?
Once your team has achieved vulnerability trust, has successfully worked through conflict around ideas rather than making conflict personal, and has truly committed to the mission, holding each other accountable is much easier. The secret behind this is that everyone needs to be heard.
Think about yourself for a moment. If you are truly committed to doing your best, do you find yourself not wanting to let other people down? Do you sometimes put off your own personal goals to help others? I know that, for me, if I have committed to someone else to do something (personal or professional), I will do whatever it takes to help that person. That is why “accountability partners” are a great tool! I have used accountability partners for years in my business, and I know my business is stronger because of them.
As critical as it is for teams to set accountability expectations, there must also be leadership accountability. Let’s look at an example:
Sarah works for a reasonably large retail company’s service desk. When they were in the process of developing and rolling out new POS software to the entire organization, she knew that she needed the team to be 100% accountable to each other if the project was going to be a success. The challenge was that while Sarah’s direct supervisor, David, was a fun, engaging manager, he never held anyone on the team accountable.
Sarah is a strong and confident employee who never misses a deadline. She knew that she had to engage David in some way to hold everyone accountable. Knowing this was not an issue for her, Sarah went to David in the early stages and said that she had a lot on her plate and was struggling with a few things. She asked David to hold her accountable during each step of the process. Of course, David now stepped up and said he would. As the team began to notice David holding Sarah accountable, he also began holding other team members accountable. This set a precedent that allowed team members to begin holding each other accountable.
Here are a few ideas that you might employ to help make mutual accountability a reality on your team.
- Have team members pair up with their own accountability partner.
- Accountability partners can be rotated every month, or every quarter, to create a more balanced and mutual accountable setting.
- Have an accountability meeting on a regular basis. The timing can vary depending on current tasks or projects.
- Make sure that holding each other accountable is a safe zone for team members.
- Never allow accountability to become personal.
- Celebrate every level of success.
Once team members are comfortable holding colleagues accountable, it is infinitely easier to focus on team-based results. Unfortunately, too often, teams begin to anticipate results rather than building a firm foundation for the team. Like any tall building, the foundation is the incredible amount of the structure underground that supports the building above.
As I have mentioned a number of times over the years, teamwork is the single greatest advantage any organization can have in today’s competitive workplace. While teamwork is not hard, it is also not a one-time event. It is ongoing and requires constant attention and adjustment.
If your team follows this systematic approach to teamwork, your service desk team can be transformed and become the envy of everyone within your organization.
Gregg Gregory is America's teambuilding mastermind, specializing in building winning cultures at every organizational level. A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) with more than 35 years working at all levels within in corporate America, Gregg has delivered more than 2,000 keynotes and teambuilding trainings to more than 500 companies in the past 20 years. Named an HDI Top 25 Thought Leader in 2017, his expertise and articles have appeared in hundreds of business and trade publications, including SellingPower.com, Boardroom Magazine, and Drake Business Review. Follow Gregg and Teams Rock on Twitter @TeamsRock, Facebook, and LinkedIn.