Episode 2 - Delegate and Ensure Accountability on Your Team
[00:00:00] Lauren Marie: Welcome to The Integrated Leader Podcast. I'm Lauren Marie, and I'm with my partner in business and in life, Loren Kutsko. We are the founders of Kutsko Consulting, an organization that enables human collaboration by providing the right data and technology to lead your people.
[00:00:20] We are introducing a learning program for leaders called the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team. As a leader, management and coaching is something you need to be doing every single day, so why not be excellent at it?
[00:00:32] In this eight part series you will be introduced to the basic principles to engage, grow, and align your team for success. It's simple, but rarely is it easy. If you want to reflect on the current status of your team as you listen along, we have a free assessment at teamhealthscore.com that will give you a baseline of where your team stands today.
[00:00:53] You can also learn all about our other products and services like hiring assessments, individual coaching, group coaching and certifications. Thankfully, there's a growing awareness in many organizations about the benefits of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of self-reflection. More and more executives are discovering the impact that these have on the multiple bottom lines they are accountable to scale. Business is personal, So let's be good at it.
[00:01:19] Loren: Today, we were talking about the second of the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team, Team Accountability.
[00:01:24] Lauren Marie: Our goal is to define what we mean when we say Team Accountability, and to have a conversation about how and why it impacts the health of a team.
[00:01:32] Loren: Listen, along as we explore this topic.
[00:01:35] It's nice to be with you today.
[00:01:36] Loren: It's nice to be with you today.
[00:01:37] Lauren Marie: Why are we talking about team accountability?
[00:01:39] Loren: It's interesting I've found that I resist being held accountable. Yeah.
[00:01:45] And most of the people that I talk to their gut is not to like reach out for accountability. Accountability, is sort of a bad thing. But then people resist it and in response to their employees resisting it, managers are afraid to become micromanagy.
[00:02:02] They don't want to be, overbearing dictatorial, authoritarian managers. They respond to their employees, resistance of accountability by not giving them much, but trying to give them a long leash. What happens then is that the employees actually respond to low accountability with frustration that they don't know what's expected of them.
[00:02:21] And then the managers end up feeling frustrated that their employees are not meeting their expectations or exceeding them. It's actually this really interesting dance, that we need to find the right tension of where we do accountability really effectively because it gives employees what they need.
[00:02:38] It gives them the structure and the goals that they need. And it's actually a good thing, even though there's, for some reason, we all resist to being held accountable. So, it's a critical component of management that all leaders need to understand and do well.
[00:02:51] Lauren Marie: Our working definition of accountability is the frequency and consistency with which your team members take initiative to invite and share feedback with one another.
[00:03:01] Loren: I think you recently looked at this and said, that's a funny definition of accountability. And I wanted to highlight that what we were trying to do here was capture each of these eight dimensions in a measurable way. And we've talked before about teamhealthscore.com as a way to go and get a score for how your team is doing on these eight dimensions. So when we were developing accountability, we said, well, let's count the number of times that feedback is going back and forth on a team, because what we see in healthy teams is that they're not afraid to be held accountable.
[00:03:34] They're not afraid to hold others accountable. And the way that that happens is through an interaction that's called feedback. And when you do feedback all the time, positive and constructive, then it becomes something that people are used to. It's part of the air of the culture and it's not something that they're afraid of.
[00:03:55] The other side of the coin is that employees get afraid of getting feedback because they're afraid that their job is at risk and they start to feel insecure. And managers because they don't want to create that sensation in their employees are afraid to deliver it. And so it's just something that you can never stop doing.
[00:04:13] Sometimes we say eight times a day, a manager should put it on their own scorecard to deliver feedback eight times a day. Most of those should be positive. So, Hey Lauren Marie, I noticed that when you set up this podcast recording you did a great job of printing out all the documents that we need ahead of time.
[00:04:32] Thank you for doing that. That has a huge impact in a positive way on our process, because now we're not running around beforehand, trying to print documents out. If you just get in the habit of doing that with one another, then people are doing it all the time and it feels really good because they know where they stand.
[00:04:49] It incentivizes future behavior. When you have to deliver it constructively, you say, “Hey Lauren, Marie, can I give you some feedback?” Wait for a response. It's okay for them to say. And then, don't deliver it if it's, if they don't say it's a good time, but then you tell them the same thing. You tell them the behavior that they did, the impact that it had on the team, and then something to tell them about how to do it differently in the future.
[00:05:12] If it's constructive, if it's positive, then you're basically saying, keep doing what you just did. So those are the four steps that we can go into more detail later, but it's just a critical component to create a healthy culture.
[00:05:24] Lauren Marie: why don't you do that at home?
[00:05:25] Loren: I don't get positive feedback. Oh, I'm bad at it. I mean, everybody's bad at it. I'm especially bad at the positive stuff. I mean, I, I, and I think that's an element of, uh, when we get into chapter four and we start talking about compatibility and style, particularly around behavior and motive and how people are different, I think we've noticed that some behavioral styles tend to notice the negative more quickly. That's part of what it takes the leader the work to do is to sit down and not just always do their flinch, because if they're better at noticing when things are wrong, you really don't want to create a culture where all feedback is always negative.
[00:06:01] Even though sometimes the manager really prefers that, or some of the employees really prefer that it will erode the trust and the culture of the team, if that's kind of the way that it feels all the time. And there's ways to kind of even take your negative instinct and turn it into positive.
[00:06:18] And that's another skill set that is really good for the leader of the team to be good at.
[00:06:21] Lauren Marie: My dad always said, if you want someone to do it again, tell them they did a great job.
[00:06:27] Loren: Absolutely.
[00:06:28] Lauren Marie: Even if it needs improvement, you need to give them positive feedback.
[00:06:32] Loren: Right? Yeah. I mean, another, another, quip that we say sometimes is when you're trying to teach somebody to write, don't correct their spelling. Any criticism will feel like a threat, honestly. I mean, our bodies respond to even body language criticism, a frowned face or furrowed eyebrows or things that we see our coworkers and our bosses do.
[00:06:56] Our bodies are designed to perceive that as a threat, which shuts down our prefrontal cortex and. It makes it more challenging for us to then learn what we're being corrected on in the first place. So if we're trying to get positive feedback, for example, write more effectively. Meanwhile, somebody comes in and corrects our grammar or spelling. The whole process gets thwarted. So feedback is just something we have to be really good at on teams to collaborate effectively.
[00:07:28] Lauren Marie: I think it's interesting that you've put this as the second dimension. Because it does feel like you need to have a foundation of trust, which we talked about last episode.
[00:07:39] If you didn't listen, I encourage you to go back because having a foundation of trust where, you know, your direct reports and you care for them, and you've already been, noticing and spending time with them, right. You said trust is made in minutes.
[00:07:59] Loren: Yep. That's right. I mean, the main takeaway from our last episode on trust is that it's about time spent together building that trust.
[00:08:08] Part of that is just giving people patience with the process of forming a new team. If you're building a new relationship, or if you're catching this after you've been in relationship with members of your team for a while, recognizing that the repair is going to take a long time to rebuild that trust.
[00:08:24] We did put these in a specific order on purpose and we've discussed, you know, sort of rearranging them. And I think even early on you're like, well, why would we not do purpose first? Cause purpose is third. And it is because we want to first lay a foundation of trust. And we want to do that through spending time together and not just kind of any old time, but very specific types of time.
[00:08:45] In the trust episode, we showed you how to spend that time effectively with your team members to build the trust. In this chapter, we're talking about a specific technique of feedback and accountability and assigning tasks, so that you can continue to build that foundation of trust.
[00:09:04] Once those two things are working, you've got this rapport and feedback and trust, and you're able to communicate good and bad, day in and day out many times. Then the stage is set to go into purpose, which we're going to talk about next episode.
[00:09:19] Lauren Marie: Yeah, that makes sense.
[00:09:20] When we talk about accountability here, I keep going back to grade school. And how your teacher would give you an assignment to do and would put the directions on it and say when it was due and you would turn it in and she would give you corrections and then you'd either make those corrections or you would get your grade.
[00:09:39] How was it similar or different in a working scenario?
[00:09:44] Loren: I think it's similar because there's a recognition, and this is our last dimension, team development. There's a recognition that we're all growing and learning. And we want that to be a stated, above the table element of us collaborating together is that none of us have arrived where we're all going to be making mistakes and we're learning. Therefore, that trust plus that mentality allows for that, “Hey, this isn't quite as good as I've seen you do in the past. So can you try again and then bring it back to me...” and it can come from the boss and it can come from coworkers and team members, peers and people in authority. I think that's probably the main difference with a teacher is that the teacher student relationship is very different than the leader and team member relationship. Because there is sort of a common goal that we are trying to achieve together on a team and in a class there's very much the one directional, the teacher is trying to teach the student. The student is not trying to teach the teacher. I think there's probably room for nuance and discussion in that, but generally speaking, you know, the team is trying to work together side-by-side to get to a place and the teacher is responsible for getting the student to go along a journey, but they're not necessarily taking on themselves. Although most teachers would probably say they're learning from their students too, so...
[00:10:57] Our team gets brought into a client situation many times when a leader has a new team that they're leading for the first time. And then another trigger is after they've been leading a team for a while and they've started to feel like the cracks have gotten too big for them to repair themselves.
[00:11:17] And so they reach out for help. One of the reasons that accountability is so important and that it's second in this list here is that part of the reason has been that those cracks get so big is that there's been a long period of time where there has been no feedback and no accountability.
[00:11:36] And then, typically the manager with authority to hire and fire starts to be like, enough is enough. And they get this pit in their stomach that is like, oh, I need to do something hard. And that the hard thing that they need to do is either fire an employee or put them on some kind of formal development or discipline plan, probably because they are trying to at the last minute, implement a process where they're quote/unquote doing the right thing before they fire somebody.
[00:12:05] So they kind of know that they don't want it to be a surprise. They don't want to blindside anybody, but they really haven't been doing everything that they need to as the leader all along. And that thing is repeated consistent feedback every day. So, early on in employee relationships, a lot of times managers will kind of have these [scary] moments...
[00:12:27] They'll be, oh, I'm so excited that you're here. We've all been putting you through this, this hiring process. It's taken us weeks and months. Uh, we've been thinking about this. We've been asking hard questions. We've been, you know, using hiring assessments and behavioral interviewing questions and, you know, gotten a whole team to, to weigh in on this.
[00:12:43] And we're really excited that you're joining. And within the first few minutes, hours and days, the new employee does something that makes somebody on the team go, oh man, I hope we didn't make a big mistake and they sit on it, they sit on their hands about it. They don't mention it. And I think there's probably an element of good in that.
[00:13:04] Again, they're avoiding another evil of being micromanagy and overbearing and dictatorial and authoritarian. Um, but there's a middle ground that they need to learn, which is basically to verbalize that and to verbalize it in a certain way that communicates that feedback effectively. There's ways to soften it.
[00:13:27] There's ways to let the other person invite it. There's ways to deliver it with respect and clarity. But the worst thing you can do really is to ignore your instincts. Those instincts are valid. And as the leader, you should be communicating your feelings. One of the things I've heard before is “if you feel something, say something” and that's a good principle for feedback and accountability on a healthy team.
[00:13:51] Lauren Marie: You mentioned clarity. What is the relationship between clarity and accountability?
[00:13:55] Loren: Yeah, so there, there's a lot of overlap in these dimensions and we've got one called team clarity and one called team accountability and another one called team purpose. So the thing you're being clear with in a lot of cases, is purpose and is role and accountability and feedback, but we wanted to emphasize it.
[00:14:12] Maybe the number one complaint we hear from coaching clients is that they don't know what's expected of them. That clarity is hugely important. So accountability, what we're doing is teaching you a practice of having the discussion around assigning a task, delegating, and then holding people accountable to tasks that they've been assigned.
[00:14:31] Clarity is about making it very clear in your communication and part of it's over and over and over again, saying the same thing because people are extremely forgetful. With clarity, we just want to make sure and check in with people that they know what they're supposed to be doing, and that we want to be very sure we've said it clearly.
[00:14:49] And the way that we can know, if we've said something clearly is we can have somebody repeat it back to us, and then we'll be able to check for dissonance in the communication. And purpose is about defining it in the first place. Why are we here? What's the point of all this? What is the shared goal that we all have that makes us a team and not just a group of people.
[00:15:06] Lauren Marie: Sometimes I'm shocked by the lack of clarity, in, in someone's role or in someone's assignment. We walk into different situations all the time, but, something that I, I think is connected here in accountability is for the direct D to be able to ask clarifying questions about the assignment.
[00:15:32] Loren: You're talking about the person who's being delegated to, or the “delegator?”
[00:15:36] Lauren Marie: The “delegator,” in my opinion, should create avenues and pathways to share information and ask questions. So it's easy. Yeah. And I think that practicing feedback is a good way to do that, but there are certain questions I feel like the person that's being delegated to should understand, “how long do you expect this to take?” Or “when are you expecting this due?” Or, “is this a higher priority than something else?”
[00:16:07] So I guess how does assigning tasks and delegating things fit into accountability?
[00:16:14] Loren: Well, I think what you're highlighting is a lot of us just go with our gut in these interactions. And that's part of why we're highlighting it is we're saying this isn't something that people just know how to do.
[00:16:25] And if you're on a team and you're collaborating with teams, and especially if you're the leader of that team, you need to proactively develop this skillset in you so that you can be an effective leader. And that skillset is, you know, again, it's, it's like something that we feel like has potentially become covert, and under the surface.
[00:16:43] Of course, if I hire the right people, they're just going to know what to do. That's why I hired them. And we don't need to say all those things because that's too detailed and I'm not good at. And all this, but absolutely. We need to practice communicating with one another. So saying things, when a task is being delivered, whether you're the deliverer, or the recipient of that delivery to notice when certain pieces of that task are missing, “when would you to have this back by?” So both people need to kind of learn how to work together with each other. And part of what we're doing is we're just saying this happens every single day. So don't let it be something that you're bad at and don't believe the lie that you don't need to be good at it.
[00:17:30] Lauren Marie: Who would say that?
[00:17:31] Loren: Oh, we, I mean, we hear it. We get hired all the time by leaders who essentially are realizing that they don't like leading so well. Yeah. They've, they've discovered I've got these people working for me now. And can I bring in consultants that will sort of do this for me? Or can we train these people up so that I will have to interact with them less because I really need to go lead.
[00:17:49] And leading, of course, doesn't include interacting with my employees. They should just know that's why I've hired the right people. I should just be able to kind of put them on the field. They know what to do. And there's a mentality that is incorrect about that because leadership is management and management is holding people accountable.
[00:18:06] You have to be very good at leading, managing and holding people accountable. If you're going to have a team of people that report to you.
[00:18:11] Lauren Marie: What is leadership, if it's not that? What is the lie?
[00:18:14] Loren: I don't know if it's, our culture of fame and culture of personality. And I don't know when this started or, or what, but I get the impression that a lot of people think that, well, we've talked a little bit about this before....
[00:18:28] So maybe there's two things. So the culture of personality, I am the one who, I'm the only one who can do this. This is clearly a work that I have to do, but I'm not going to be able to do it by myself. I'm going to surround myself with people who can assist me and do this. If I find the right people that will just go smoothly.
[00:18:48] And if it doesn't go smoothly, I've clearly got the wrong people. Let's try again with somebody different. So I think part of it's the cult of personality. I think another part of it is because many of our employment systems are oriented around elevating people's pay and status through giving them responsibility for other people, instead of having other ways to increase their compensation and their status without having other people report to them.
[00:19:15] And that's something that we've seen a lot where the only way for someone to advance is not to do more of what they're already proven that they're good at and do it more effectively. There is... they hit a ceiling of pay because of the way that a lot of compensation and salary bands are designed.
[00:19:31] What they do is they say, well, then you can manage a bunch of people. Then they find out that those management skills are not actually what they wanted to develop. So let's say that you're an accountant and you're really good at doing accounting. Well, you want to grow in your career. Now you need to manage a team of five accountants.
[00:19:46] Well, that means you've got to develop the skill of leading, managing, and holding other accountants accountable, and you're going to be doing less accounting and that sense with money. I'm so bad at picking these examples. I like it. What happens is you have to actually look at your calendar and say, I have less time now to do the thing that I really like to do, which is to do the accounting.
[00:20:10] I'm going to take a whole chunk of my time and replace accounting with management. And people, when they realize that they go, well, I'm glad I have the bigger paycheck, but I don't want to do that. Or I don't know how to do that. And that leads to fear of doing that. Then they close their heavy door on their corner office and they go, well, I've got a lot of accounting work to do, and I'm more important than you all… It just leads to this pervasive cycle.
[00:20:38] Lauren Marie: The other pervasive cycle that I know we've walked into with our work in faith-based nonprofits is that there is a, an idea that we're a family.
[00:20:50] And what I've noticed is that it inhibits people from even being able to hold people accountable, because I, because “I love you brother.” And then it turns into passive aggressive behavior, because it all goes underground.
[00:21:06] Loren: Right. And we do see this in faith-based nonprofits and we see this in, you know, other charities, but there's a lot of, talk lately, even in for-profit businesses about being mission-driven and purpose-driven and how that's really what millennial employees and all employees want is they want to have a sense of meaning. There's a great scene in one of the Steve jobs movies about how Steve, I think somebody who was working at Pepsi gets recruited back to Apple by saying, do you really want to continue selling sugar water or do you want to come change the world? It doesn't really matter if you're, in my opinion, uh, a social sector, charitable mission-driven nonprofit, or if you're Apple, the most valuable company in the world.
[00:21:49] People respond to mission and it's tempting to say things and use metaphors like, “we're a family.” It's happening all over the place. And I think the metaphor that you choose and the language that you use is important because when you say family, what you're trying to do is communicate a sense of, “this isn't just work.” “This isn't just going to the office.” We're not just selling sugar water or assembling Fords on a factory line. What we're doing is we are collaborating. We have deep, intentional, intimate relationships. We're closer than that. But the family metaphor breaks down because at work, you are there to do a purpose and an in a family that is not the function of a family.
[00:22:37] The function of a family is to create a tight knit tribe of people, who loves one another. And you can't get kicked out of a family. Because you didn't accomplish your goal, but if you don't show up at work for three days straight and you don't tell anybody, or you consistently quarter after quarter, don't hit your goals or you don't develop your skills, you do need to be kicked off of that team. It's not a family. I would argue that it's unhelpful to use that metaphor in the workplace. And I think it doesn't matter what kind of workplace that is. If you can get hired, you can get fired. And if you're the leader and you do the hiring, then you do the firing. You shouldn't tell your coworkers, that they're family, and you should not be building friendships with them.
[00:23:23] Lauren Marie: Wow. So is there another analogy that people could use instead of family? Is there a... we are something.
[00:23:31] Loren: Yeah, we're a work team that has dignity and and inspiration in and of itself. Right? I mean, I think a sports team is a good analogy. I think honestly, I think sports teams can be so effective because of a lot of the attributes of a sports team, the seasonal nature of it, the fact that you have clearly distinct times of practice and times of game, the fact that the coach generally does not get on the field as a player. There's a lot of things that are really helpful about sports. I think one risk was sports analogies work versus family is that sometimes the men tend to be more familiar with sports analogies and there's a kind of a masculine vs. feminine, uh, thing that can be created inadvertently.
[00:24:15] A bunch of people are really into sports. It doesn't have to be men and women, but when you have a bunch of people who are really into sports and they're using those metaphors and then some people don't quite understand it, then it can break down there. I think you can use things like sailing and boating.
[00:24:28] I think, for teams. Which I guess is a sport. Sometimes, I guess I was trying to think of a merchant ship or a pirate ship. You could use a pirate ship. So there's all kinds of analogies that you can use. But I would stay away from the family analogy at work, frankly, because at the end of the day, we are accountable for something that our children and our spouses and our siblings, we're not accountable to one another in the same way. Those relationships are meant to show up at Thanksgiving dinner. Year in and year out and have them be a warm and safe place, um, a safe harbor and a supporting base, and that's not what our work relationships are meant to be.
[00:25:01] Lauren Marie: You just said that you shouldn't be friends with your director. Can you be friends with other supervisors or at work, should you not be friends?
[00:25:09] Loren: Uh, no. I think it's primarily an issue with the leader of the team and their employees. And the main issue is that there will come a time when there will be conflict between what's best for the employee and what's best for the organization.
[00:25:25] And as the leader of the team, you are responsible to the organization. And if you've built a friendship, there's unwritten rules in friendship that your loyalty is to the friendship. Now I think most of the time, maybe even 99% of the time, that there's a perceived dissonance between what's best for the organization and what's best for the individual.
[00:25:49] And they're actually more in line than we think. A really good leader is actually going to be the one who aligns those purposes. It's going to feel like friendship a lot and that's okay. I think that's actually really good, walking right up to the friendship line, but then not crossing it.
[00:26:07] Certain things are gonna happen. And one of them is, your employees are going to throw a birthday party for one of their children and they're going to invite their coworkers and their boss. And that's good. And if you want to go, you should go. I would be hesitant the other way around. You don't need to invite your employees to your kid's birthday party.
[00:26:25] And you don't need to invite your employees to happy hour. You can go when they invite you, but when you invite them, it sends a signal that's confusing to the employee. This is back to the clarity dimension. You don't want to confuse them. You want it to be very clear to the employee, am I in a relationship with this person who is in authority over me and you want that authority to feel really good and safe and about giving you what you need and supporting you and serving you.
[00:26:53] So we're advocates of servant leadership, but it looks different than friendship. Your employees, you want them to be friends with one another. Everyone needs to have a best friend at work, someone that can go hang out at lunch with. We just want you to be very careful as the leader of the team, not to send signals that indicate friendship, because when you actually have to discipline employees and hold them accountable and potentially let them go someday that friendship may get in the way of doing that.
[00:27:21] And then the relationship will schism and we really want to avoid that. All of your relationships with all of your employees to last for a very long time, and then turn into future team working relationships in future organizations. Everybody that works together should always want to work together again in the way that you can create that is by having healthy accountability and feedback built on a foundation of trust that doesn't get broken because you've sort of done something inappropriately along the way.
[00:27:48] Lauren Marie: The other thing that you mentioned with the birthday party… it's confusing to the person being led on what to do when they get an invitation from their boss, to go to their kid's birthday party.
[00:28:02] Loren: Is this work or is this play?
[00:28:04] Lauren Marie: I want to please you. Right, right. But I don't want to go.
[00:28:08] Right. Do I have to go? Is this something that I’m required to do?
[00:28:09] Loren: Exactly. Right? And then, and then when I'm, you know, driving a long distance to my boss's house, do I submit those mileage expenses like I would if I was doing another work event far away? It's unclear. You just want to make it very clear.
[00:28:26] And then, but then what do you do when you then tell that employee that it is a work event? I would like you to use, you know, submit these miles for reimbursements. Well, now are you building a friendship with me because it's your duty at work? Well, that's confusing about friendship. Are you doing this to me because I can't reimburse this, so this is a friendship thing and it's not work? And then does that mean if I decline, it's potentially going to show up in my performance review? So it just creates too much confusion and fogginess when the boss is trying to build friendships into the part of the hierarchy that they're responsible for and in authority over.
[00:29:03] Lauren Marie: Have you ever worked in an environment that had good accountability?
[00:29:06] Loren: I think, I think my frustration with poorly delivered accountability has been to pursue autonomy. Autonomy is also something that employees need. But I've pursued it as a way to get away from accountability. And I think that's part of why we try to train managers and how to do accountability effectively, because it's hard to come by.
[00:29:27] This is unique. This can be a major competitive advantage for you and your organization if you develop the skill as a leader.
[00:29:34] Lauren Marie: You've been pursuing autonomy since you were three years old. That's true. I don't know if it was because of any management style.
[00:29:40] Loren: I mean, I think all people thrive with autonomy, um, but to different degrees.
[00:29:46] You, as a manager, want to figure out what the right mix is based on who your unique employees are and we're going to talk more about that in the compatibility chapter.
[00:29:54] Lauren Marie: One thing for me is... One thing I feel about accountability because I, like you, have been pursuing autonomy for my most of my life.
[00:30:04] “Don't tell me what to do” is a mentality I walk around with. But once I have submitted myself to a job and I say, I am going to go do this now for you. And then I don't get positive feedback that I just did this for you. I feel unseen. And then I think it doesn't matter what I do.
[00:30:25] Loren: You're talking about me in particular?
[00:30:26] Lauren Marie: No, just like in working relationships.
[00:30:28] Loren: You really thrive on...
[00:30:32] Lauren Marie: I want you to see what I did because now I know it matters and I'm going to keep trying harder to do it better next time. But if I don't see that my leader has seen that, then I don't care to try.
[00:30:45] Loren: Yeah. And this is the difficult skill to develop because there's a lot of employees like you who really, really thrive on positive feedback.
[00:30:53] I personally thrive much more on constructive criticism. I walk around with an attitude, “of course I'm doing it well,” and then, but I want you to tell me when I'm not, because I'm motivated to do it better next time. Um, and then when I need positive feedback, I'll tend to initiate a conversation and say, please give me feedback about this.
[00:31:14] I'm not sure if it's good enough. That's my natural style. You have almost the opposite natural style, and it's important for a manager to be able to discern primarily those two, but it's on a spectrum of styles around feedback and then give their employees what they need to motivate them. If you have someone who really desires positive feedback, some of those people are really gonna want that recognition communicated publicly.
[00:31:39] Some people are gonna want that recognition communicated privately. You need to know the nuances of who's on your team and you might have to do really hard things for yourself, like track a list of positive things that your employees do so that when you get to your weekly one-on-one you can go through the list and say things like I saw that you did this really well.
[00:31:57] That was amazing. Do it again. I saw that you did that really well, that was amazing, do it again. Ideally, you're going to do that really quick, but you may need to, in order to train yourself, keep a running list, and then make sure that you're going through it. So it's another to-do list in your to-dos for a specific employee.
[00:32:13] What are the things that they're doing, right? What are the things that they need to improve? Just like you're keeping a list of tasks and projects that you're working on right now. You need lists like this for each of your employees that you're referencing frequently. And that's why we recommend not going longer than seven days between a one-on-one so that you always know you're going through your list of messages that need to be communicated.
[00:32:32] Lauren Marie: It seems like a theme might be making the implicit explicit in all of these dimensions so far. Like we don't just think people know our mind. We have to say it out loud and in a one-on-one conversation, asking the person, “what is the best way to give you positive feedback?” can be a question you ask someone. And you can get a real response. You don't have to guess.
[00:33:00] Loren: And, we're going to talk about this again in the compatibility chapter, but we believe heavily in using tools that uncover what's going on in people, by having them answer survey questions and, you know, using reliable and valid tests to do this ‘cause it gives you these new insights into who you're working with, but the best source of the data is the person that you're working with. So even when you have the assessment results, having a conversation with somebody and saying, “Hey, I see your assessment results say this about you, but I want to hear it in your words. I need to give you some feedback periodically. What's the best way to do that? What way do you like to receive feedback? I'd like to recognize you for a job well done, do you want me to surprise you and stand, stand up in an all hands meeting and have everybody stand and cheer and clap? Do you want a gift card? Do you want some extra time off? Do you want a pay raise? What, how do you like to be managed and led? It's important for you to know. Sometimes you're in a really large organization where HR’s equity rules don't allow you to do a lot of different things for different employees, but you still should know. You want to ask these questions and facilitate these conversations with the people who work for you. That's your job.
[00:34:07] Lauren Marie: What does the team lose when they don't have accountability structures set up?
[00:34:11] Loren: It becomes too unclear and loose and people start to take advantage of that. So their desire for autonomy, uh, will, when they find that there's a crack, they will drive a wedge into it. And they will make that bigger and bigger and bigger because it's just human nature.
[00:34:29] If they find that the boss shows up late for meetings, and nobody says to the boss you put this meeting on the calendar at 9:15, and you just walked in at 9:18, we do meetings on time here, even though I report to you because we've been talking about how important accountability and feedback is.
[00:34:48] I know I'm safe to say that, and there's not going to be repercussions to me. So I'm going to hold you to account when you do something that is outside of the team norms. When that culture exists, then the next time the boss comes to a meeting, they're going to be there at 9:15 for the 9:15 meeting. When employees start to see that nobody holds the boss accountable for being three minutes late to a meeting, then that is the norm.
[00:35:11] And these, these norms form on the team that are unwritten, like you're saying, they're implicit things and they become very strong and ingrained. That is the definition of culture.
[00:35:23] Lauren Marie: And then no one will say, five weeks in and say, say it started at 9:15 and now it's 9:18. Now it's 9:20, the meeting still not starting on time and everyone just sits in it.
[00:35:33] Right? No one then says I feel confused.
[00:35:37] Loren: Right. And you really start to notice it when you have an outsider join a meeting suddenly. And everybody on the team, all the insiders are kind of used to the meeting getting going five to 10 minutes late, and then you've got this person going well, I cleared my schedule to be here on time… That's a norm and the culture outside of your organization, right? Why is there one inside? And maybe you've decided that the first 15 minutes of every meeting is designed for people to show up and start having a social conversation and check in on their weekends. And if somebody wants to come in up to 15 minutes late because they don't want to do that stuff and they just want to hit the ground running and get to business that's okay.
[00:36:13] But it's been made explicit. And then you can also communicate it to the outsider that's coming to the meeting. So you do, you really want to be extremely intentional. That's what this second dimension of team accountability is really about is making the implicit explicit, being very clear about what is expected from people in their roles and culturally throughout the team and the organization.
[00:36:39] Lauren Marie: Would you say that having this type of culture of feedback and accountability creates more psychological safety?
[00:36:46] Loren: Absolutely. Because one of the major things that inhibits psychological safety is the fear of repercussion for doing something wrong.
[00:36:55] And what we talked about in episode one where we're talking about trust and psychological safety, is that the major way that you measure that is that people are not afraid to make mistakes. They're not afraid to be called out for making mistakes, and they're not afraid to call other people out for making mistakes when everything's explicit and clear and you're doing a good job with feedback and holding people accountable and assigning and delegating tasks, and people are talking about what's working and what's not all the time, then they're not afraid to say things like, “Hey boss, we’d aa really appreciate it if you’d get here on time and if you get stuck in traffic, we get it, stuff happens, but we'd like it if you would call us and let us know.” You really can't cancel that meeting at the last minute, just because you're the boss. We're all here. You now have this enormous impact on our work day and our week where all these other things that we were trying to get done, because we all thought we were working together towards the same purpose is now inhibited because you decided to cancel a meeting at the last minute.
[00:37:46] And you may have decided to do that because you think you're allowed because you’re the boss. You talk about these things and you have a really healthy team. You don't talk about those things. And that's what leads to our current turnover rates across society of 18 months on average, that people stay in roles because they don't want to talk about those things so they sit on their hands and they whisper about it at the water cooler, and then eventually they start looking for other jobs. You're getting maybe five to six months of productivity from any employee on any given day.
[00:38:16] Lauren Marie: Are you really suggesting that someone called the boss out in the middle of the meeting in front of everyone?
[00:38:22] Loren: I think the example that I just gave is probably what can be said once that trust and rapport and feedback culture has been established. I don't feel like that's good advice. But if you do that, if you do that early in a job, and your boss responds negatively, then you're going to know very quickly, they have a low level of emotional intelligence and you probably don't want to keep working for them anyway.
[00:38:45] Lauren Marie: I would just do it privately.
[00:38:47] Loren: Absolutely. I totally agree. I think you should always deliver feedback privately, but I do think eventually there can be a culture of candor on the team that allows for things to be done like that publicly. But if you're not there yet, then you should have the social awareness to know what's going on and to not do that, if it's going to create a bigger rift in the team.
[00:39:11] Lauren Marie: Also, some people like an antagonistic environment where there's sarcasm and stuff, but I would be hesitant cause I can see it going passive aggressive side-comment, not a proper, “can I give you some feedback? It's important that we start this meeting on time.
[00:39:30] Loren: No, absolutely. Let me repeat, because there is a model and it is four steps and we get this from Manager Tools and it's in The Effective Manager book by Mark Horstman. And we reference it all the time, but there's four steps:
And the first step with feedback is to ask for permission, “Hey, is now a good time to give you some feedback?” or “I need to give you some feedback. Can I do that right now?” And when someone says, no, then you respect that. And you say, “when would be a good time?” So that's the first step is to ask for permission. You always have to do that step.
[00:39:58] The second step is to state the behavior. So this is really important that it's behavior. It can't be attitude. It can't be emotion. It can't be, it feels like it has to be, “You showed up late for the meeting.” That's a behavior. “You were typing on your laptop during the meeting,” “You weren't making eye contact with the audience during your presentation.” “You shrugged your shoulders when you received feedback from one of your coworkers.” It's all behavioral. It has to be behavior. So the second one is to state the behavior.
[00:40:31] The third one is to state the impact of the behavior on the team. And the fourth one is to talk about how to do it differently in the future.
[00:40:39] So with positive feedback, that fourth step is do it again, that same thing. And with constructive feedback it’s “here's what to do instead.” So those are the four steps. Ask for permission, state the behavior, talk about the impact and talk about the future expectations. If you're coming in as a new manager and with existing teams where you don't already have a culture of this setup, you need to go through an intentional period of rolling this out. It means you have to talk to everybody about it. This is what we're doing. We're experimenting with this. We don't expect this to go right every time. And you want to train everybody in the four steps and we can put a lot of stuff in the show notes from Manager Tools about how to do this really well.
[00:41:19] Lauren Marie: So once strong accountability has been set up on the team, what impact does it have to the purpose or the bottom line?
[00:41:28] Loren: Well, effective teams accomplish results. And if the primary goal is the bottom line, then that is the thing that you're going to see a positive impact on.
[00:41:36] If you're an organization that has more than one bottom line or has a bottom line, that's not financial, you're also going to see that mission be impacted in positive ways. So there's absolutely a connection between how healthy the team is, how engaged they are, how productive they are, and then the goals of the organization being reached.
[00:41:55] Lauren Marie: It does feel hard. To give negative feedback, for some people, maybe not everyone. Why do you think that is?
[00:42:04] Loren: I think it has to do with the psychological safety piece. I think it has to do with Maslow's hierarchy. I have a need to belong. I think when you're in an environment where the accountability is not done effectively and it's done sparsely and it's implicit, then it's scary, right?
[00:42:22] When it happens regularly as a part of a process that everyone has been trained in and it's consistent, it's no longer scary. It's how we are going to win together is by holding each other accountable. And I want to improve. I mean, if you ask most people, are you good at everything that you want to be good at? They would say no, there are some things I would like to grow in. Growing and developing is a major part of what we all get motivated to do every day. Knowing that you have other people in your corner who want to see you grow and develop, will provide resources if they're your boss and will provide support if they are your coworkers is actually a really motivating environment to be in. When you start to hide those weaknesses from each other, that's when it gets scary. Because now everyone's trying to pretend they don't have weaknesses. And if a weakness gets found out, now my security is at risk because my family is depending on this job for their security.
[00:43:19] Lauren Marie: Yeah. Thank you.
[00:43:20] Is there anything else that you want to share about accountability?
[00:43:24] Loren: Avoid the trap of not holding people accountable or having loose accountability, make the implicit explicit and follow the feedback model.
[00:43:33] Lauren Marie: Great summary.
[00:43:33] Today. We talked about the second of the 8 Dimensions of a Healthy Team, Team Accountability. Our goal was to define what we mean when we say that and have a conversation about how and why it impacts the health of a team.
Lauren Marie: Thank you for joining us today. We are thrilled to have you here. It's important to remember that as with all learning, just having the information does not automatically lead to transformation. We can give you all of the analytics and methodologies, but team transformation will not happen without you incorporating new behaviors into your leadership practice.
Listening to a podcast without beginning to practice better management is a lot like learning about exercise without moving your body. Starting anything new will feel awkward and funny at times. This is normal and doesn't mean you should stop. Discomfort is a sign that it is working and that your brain is getting stronger. Stick with it.
Commit to trying our methods for eight weeks to six months and then observe and see what's next. See you next time on The Integrated Leader Podcast.