This is the 3rd of a 7-part series on the topic of accountability, based on book “Crucial Accountability”, 2013 (authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler)

This time we’ll explore more in-depth the model presented last time:

Step 1: Clarify the What and If

It is important to evaluate the problem and the potential risk of not holding one accountable in order to come up with the right solution for ourselves, our team, organization and/or the employee.

Keep both eyes wide open and positive by seeing the other as a good person – one that likely wants to be valued and do something of value.

The What
Evaluate and unbundle the problem to understand the right issue to be discussed through possible root causes, consequences of inaction and frequency of violation. This exploratory process is best done through CPR (Context, Pattern and Relationship).

Context: The objective story of what has been happening based on observations and how it impacts the bigger picture. What is the possible intent and what are the resulting consequences?

Pattern: Any patterning that has occurred in the behaviour(s). Is this a one-time occurrence or is it happening regularly?

Relationship: The potential impact on the personal, stakeholders and the team relationships should accountability continue to be violated. Dwindling trust, confidence and respect are hard to rebuild.

Once each CPR component is diagnosed, parties will be in a better position to agree on the story, come up with solutions and optimize the next steps.

The If

Understanding the problem is step one, whether you should address it is another. You may realize through analysis that the violation of accountability may have stemmed from your behaviours. Before choosing to speak up, understand why it is necessary and what the intent is.

Are you:

– acting out your concerns;

– satisfying a nagging conscience;

– wanting to truly support and help;

– or, choosing silence over risk.

Realize that emotions can’t be hidden and if a needed conversation is being avoided, others will sense what is going on and eventually, your silence may lead to unhealthy anger and stress.

There are telltale signs that you should be speaking up. These include:

– acting out feelings verbally or non-verbally

– a nagging gut telling you to address it

– minimizing cost of inaction and maximizing danger in speaking up

– feeling is one of powerlessness

Once deciding to proceed to the next step of mastering the story, take time to consider and believe that the conversation could go well. Positive reflection on the conversation will help overcome limiting thoughts such as “things are not that bad”, “how much worse it can get” or “it is what it is”.

If we think like that, we are bound to not prepare as well as we should, if at all. Believing that something bad could happen or that we really don’t have the power to make a difference is likely not the reality.

Again, seeing the other as a good person – one that likely wants to be valued and do something of value – will help us to approach these steps with confidence and a genuine desire to help create a positive outcome.

Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant