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How to Hold People Accountable

“I don’t like being micromanaged.”

People generally want to be held accountable to their commitments. They want to know that what they are doing is right and that it is going to work. They want the chance to report in on their successes and get help with their challenges.

But some people resist being held accountable, complain about being micromanaged, or chafe under being asked to keep their commitments. These are most often the very people that need to be held accountable. Left alone, they aren’t good enough “me managers” to produce the results they are capable of producing.

There is a difference between “can” and “will.”

Most salespeople suffer from a lack of accountability. Because most sales managers fear being thought of as micromanaging they don’t hold salespeople accountable. But holding people accountable doesn’t make you a micromanager. It makes you a good coach and a good leader.

Here are three steps to holding people accountable.

Agree On Accountabilities

The first step to getting accountability right is to agree on what exactly what someone is going to be held accountable for.

It’s unfair to hold someone accountable when you haven’t been clear on what you expect. You need to be very clear on outcomes. Managers who fear being thought of us micromanagers can be so soft in delivering the accountabilities that it can sound like suggestions.

Make it clear, and agree on the accountabilities. It’s even better when you can allow the accountable party to help determine those outcomes; you want them to own the outcomes.

Determine When You Will Review

No one should be surprised to discover that you want to have a meeting to discuss their progress in achieving the outcomes for which they are being held accountable.

If you never check in on the accountable party, you are being irresponsible. It feels like a game of “gotcha.”

If you check in too frequently, you are micromanaging. I have a friend that works for a company that updates their pipeline daily, even though their average deal cycle is 180 days. The salespeople are compelled (by force, really) to report in that nothing has changed almost daily.

Schedule reviews and make them meaningful.

Share Your Accountabilities

If you are going to hold someone else accountable, share with them your accountabilities.

You are going to be accountable to keep your word and follow up. You are going to be accountable for listening, for helping discover the challenges facing the person you are holding accountable, and for helping to resolve those challenges.

By agreeing to hold someone else accountable, you create an accountability of your own.


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