How to hold employees accountable without micromanaging


Today, I wanted to talk about how to hold your employees accountable without micromanaging them. Now, these are two ideas that I think often feel like they are in severe conflict.

We, as leaders, of course, want our teams to be on top of their stuff, to be proactively owning things, to be responsible, accountable, and yet, trying to figure out how to do that without putting a stranglehold on creativity, without being super annoying and checking in with them. It's tough to imagine how those two ideas coexist.

The really fascinating thing though is that it is absolutely possible to hold a team accountable without micromanaging them. And, in fact, the greatest way to instill accountability is by actually moving in a completely different direction than what we typically think of micromanaging.

And so, when we first think about accountability to begin with, what I find so interesting is that the core idea of what it means to have your team be accountable is that you want your team to act on their own accord. You want your team members to be proactively seeking out solutions, owning different areas, and taking responsibility for different deadlines and pieces. And that kind of choosing, that kind of proactivity is something that, quite honestly, we as leaders, we cannot force.

The only thing we can do, which is, in fact, the most effective thing that we can do is paint an extraordinarily clear picture of what success looks like that then gets that person excited about actually meeting those levels of accountability.

For example, I think one of the best things that we can do to help hold our team accountable without micromanaging them is actually just to ask the very simple question of, what would success look like for this project, or for this role? Rather than saying, "Hey, I need you to do this. I need you to change this. I'd really like for you to think about X, Y, and Z." Instead, ask what would success look like if we were to do that really well?

What you'll find is their answer and your answer of what the actual outcome is, rather than the activity itself, all of a sudden helps that person actually have the space to then go do that.

But if I, as a direct report, don't understand, what is the thing I'm supposed to be accountable to? What is the outcome that you actually want me to own and really be proactive about? If I don't know that then, of course, I'm not gonna be very good at being accountable.

So the most sort of core aspect when we think about accountability as leaders is really trying to define, what would success actually look like? And getting super clear about that outcome. I hope this tip was helpful and look forward to sharing more of these over the coming weeks. Thanks.

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