Ask Alignor

What is the best way to hold people accountable for their actions?

The best way to hold people accountable for their actions is to get agreement with them up front as to what is expected of each person and what will happen if they do not keep their commitments. While this sounds simple and straightforward, it is amazing how rarely we take the time to clarify both expectations and what will happen if people do not keep their commitments. Another mistake we often make is failing to implement consequences in a timely, consistent manner. Perhaps we do not like conflict, or we decide to give the other person another chance…then another and another…It is amazing the variety of excuses we may come up with to justify not taking “tough” actions to hold other people accountable. Unfortunately, when we fall into this pattern of failing to hold others accountable, we inadvertently communicate to everyone that we are not serious about commitments. When you feel a lack of accountability has taken hold, you may need to be very clear with others about how: 1) commitments have not been kept in the past; and 2) people have not been held accountable for failing to keep those commitments. Then you should have a direct conversation with other stakeholders about: 1) why past commitments have not been kept; 2) what commitments people are prepared to make (and keep) going forward; and 3) what will happen if people do not keep these new commitments. Carefully document and “publish” the new commitments so everyone can see them and keep track of compliance. If people fail to keep their new, documented commitments, you must be prepared to implement the agreed consequences!