Have you had times when someone in your team has failed to make a phone call, complete a report or tackle a difficult conversation?
Have you already discussed it with them several times and now it’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day?
One of my clients came to me because a member of her team kept saying they were going to do something, only to miss the deadline because they were ‘just too busy.’
She told me, “It’s so frustrating, because we all sometimes feel overwhelmed, but he keeps prioritising the wrong things and making promises he can’t keep.”
I’m reading the excellent book, Crucial Accountability – Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior and it describes an accountability model called CPR. It stands for Content, Pattern & Relationship.
Content – what just happened.
“You said you’d finish the report for the client by Friday afternoon, but you missed the deadline. And then you didn’t make contact with the client or with me.”
This is the first time it happened – so state the content of what just happened and give them the space to come up with a plan so it doesn’t happen again.
But if it’s Groundhog Day….
Pattern – what has happened over time.
“This is the second time this has occurred. You agreed it wouldn’t happen again, and I’m concerned that I can’t count on you to keep your promises.”
Don’t get sucked into debating the present-day issue. Start by addressing the pattern before moving back to today’s content.
Relationships – what’s happening to us.
As the problem continues you may start losing trust and doubting their competency.
“This is starting to put a strain on how we work together. I feel as if I’m having to nag you to keep you in line, and I don’t like doing that. I guess my fear is that I can’t trust you to keep the agreements you make.”
Try to stop yourself from filling the possible silences you may get when asking some of these questions.
And don’t be afraid of repetition if the answer they offer is for a different question.
And remember, if you want to free yourself from accountability Groundhog Day, you’ll need to practice this different approach.