Encouraging Accountability & Responsibility

Your team is only as strong as the weakest link.  What does your team look like?  Is there someone on your team who consistently causes problems or conflict? Perhaps it is someone who points her finger at another member on the team when a deadline is missed.  Or someone who blames his alarm clock each time he is late (which is often)?  Or faults the information or the instructions received when an error is made?

So how do you, as a leader, take control of the situation?

Some managers choose to ignore it, in the hopes it will get better.  Or they choose the opposite direction and immediately remove the person from their team.  The first choice never works.  If left unchecked, one team member’s apathy and inability to accept responsibility negatively affects the whole team.   And while removing a person from a team may have to be done eventually, there are other things to try first.

When you notice someone pointing the finger of blame elsewhere, stop them and redirect the conversation.  Have them focus on what can be done to fix the problem, instead of focusing on reasons (excuses?) why something went wrong.

It’s also a good idea to have a conversation with the employee.  When people feel bored, under-appreciated or overwhelmed, they may lose motivation.

If your team member is bored, is there something you can do to provide a new challenge or learning opportunity?  Are you giving all of your team members regular feedback and recognizing them for a job well done?  Has their workload increased significantly?  Are they feeling overwhelmed due to lack of training or inferior or out-dated tools?  Are you providing clear direction as to expectations, duties, responsibilities?

And last but not least, take a look at yourself.  What is your response when an error is made?  Do you get angry or do you look for solutions?  Are you leading by example?  You are ultimately responsible for the team, so when things go wrong, do you stand up and accept overall responsibility or do you start playing the blame game?

As a leader of a team, it is your job to encourage your team members take more responsibility for their work.  Be sure they have the skills and resources they need to do their job effectively and then create an environment that encourages responsibility and accountability.

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