Accountability - What Are You Communicating?
"I don’t understand why I have to keep reminding my employees to do their job. They're not hearing what I'm telling them. All I get is finger pointing.” Unfortunately it’s a common phenomenon in many offices. Things don’t get done. Complacency and mediocrity are accepted. As a result, more and more of the responsibilities weigh on the shoulders of the dentist, who acts like a superhero carrying the burden and feeling overwhelmed…as well as frustrated and angry.
Of all the things we expect of leaders, the single-most shirked responsibility of “the boss” is holding people accountable. Accountability is essential to achieving results. If you find yourself addressing the same issues in the same manner time and time again, you have a lack of accountability in your team. And the root cause is a failure to communicate clear expectations.
It doesn’t matter where I go or what I do, whether coaching, consulting, or training, the topic of communication always plays a part. It makes sense - we are all trying to influence other people by what we say and how we say it. But the nuances of communication are complex, and most of us do not communicate as clearly as we think or intend. For example, have you said any of these phrases during a morning huddle or the monthly staff meeting?
These are the typical ways to avoid making a clear request. In each of these, it’s uncertain who is being asked and what they are being asked to do. There’s no commitment from anyone. In many cases, the requestor walks away feeling good about bringing up an issue that’s been gnawing at him/her, but the communication has been too vague. The probability is nothing will happen.
The most successful requests follow a common pattern. Use first person language. Specify observable conditions of satisfaction, including deadlines. Explain your purpose for asking. If there is a designated person for the request, address her/him by name with direct language. Get agreement. Here’s a basic issue about office cleanliness and how it might sound:
A clear request demands a clear response. There are only three possible answers:
If you hear anything else, beware. The other person is likely to ‘weasel’ out of any promise. Here are some examples:
Clear commitments don’t mean that everything will work out. Life is unpredictable, so even the most impeccable commitments can break down. As the dental leader you are accountable to model the way. That starts with your responsibility to keep promises. As Yoda said, “Do or do not…there is no try.”
Next Time: How to communicate when commitments aren’t kept.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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