Tag Archive for teambuilding

The Necessity of Accountability

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Accountability.

Depending on your experiences and philosophical perspective, that word can conjure a wide variety of feelings, many of which seem similar to that feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when your mom told you to go wait in your room for your dad to get home. However, most of us would likely agree that accountability, at least in some vague, general sense, is a necessary component of healthy teams and organizations.

But here’s the thing. Accountability, rightly understood, is a shared thing between two or more people. It’s not a one-way street. In other words, it is two or more folks holding each other accountable to uphold shared values and/or performance expectations. That sort of accountability can have an amazing and positive impact on a team because it builds trust, promotes healthy conflict, and so on.

Unfortunately, though, accountability is not always thought of in this way. This is an issue that plagues many organizations, often the higher you go on the org chart. Leadership positions, up to and certainly including the CEO, need to have real accountability in place. When leaders don’t have real accountability, they are able to essentially do whatever they’d like. And that can ugly in a hurry.

Imagine a boss who has limited real accountability, and on top of that has a narcissistic personality, is emotionally abusive, and possesses a nearly non-existent moral compass. That boss will likely terrorize those who work for him or her, because what’s to stop him or her? It’s a recipe for disaster.

How do you know there might be a lack of real accountability? Ask yourself the following questions.

What happens when someone raises concerns about a manager, executive, or CEO? Do they end up being victimized as a result of speaking up? 

Are legitimate and concrete corrective actions put in place for managers up to and including the CEO, or are issues routinely swept under the rug and/or rationalized away?

When managers up to and including the CEO see regular turnover on their teams, are the reasons for that turnover really explored? Or are leaders able to simply shrug and chalk it up to what they might call “bad” employees?

Do managers up to and including the CEO insist on accountability for everyone, but then avoid it at all costs themselves? 

Are managers up to and including the CEO able to routinely talk their way out of any potential issues? 

When’s the last time managers up to and including the CEO took full and complete responsibility for things going wrong on their teams? Or is it typically an exercise in deflection and rationalization?

A lack of real accountability usually has a destructive impact on teams and organizations, and the longer bad bosses are allowed to function without real accountability, the longer the organization will suffer the consequences.

3 Reasons You Should Listen to Negativity

ComplaintDepartment

The undercurrent.

Every organization has one – even yours. Maybe especially yours. Sometimes it lurks in the shadows, while other times it can be noticed slithering through various departments. It’s almost always viewed negatively; this is due, at least in part, to the fact that the undercurrent often contains negativity, or at least content presented in a negative light.

Allow me a quick sidebar here. I’m not necessarily condoning the contents and/or tone of the undercurrent. I know, like you do, that often the undercurrent is a place where whining and complaining thrives; and I’m not a fan of either of those things. Further, I’m not saying that employees ought not be coached toward embracing a positive attitude and eliminating as much negativity as they can. But I am saying this: the undercurrent is a reality in most organizations, so why not use it? Here are a few reasons you should do just that.

1. It’s the “inside scoop.”

Maybe we’re missing something. Maybe we’re overlooking an opportunity here. You see, often the undercurrent is representative of the unpolished, unfiltered feelings and sentiments of the employees in an organization. If that’s the case – if the undercurrent really is the uncut, unedited version of the employees’ perceptions of the organization – than perhaps we’d do well to quit ignoring and start listening.

2. There’s probably some truth in there.

Instead of simply complaining about the undercurrent, if we can sift through the whining and complaining, we just might find that there’s some truth nestled in there somewhere. Perhaps, underneath it all, there’s some validity to some of the complaints. Maybe folks’ managers and/or executives really aren’t doing a good job with this or that.

So here’s what I’m suggesting: Leaders, keep an ear to the ground. Listen. Learn. Sift through the complaints with an eye toward how you might effect positive change within the organization. Search for the kernels of truth – even truth you’d rather not acknowledge about yourself – that can be found beneath the layers of complaining.

3. It forces us as leaders to take a hard look in the mirror.

And then – and this is the hard part for us in leadership positions – take a hard look in the mirror. Are we discounting what they’re saying simply because their critique is couched in a complaint? Are we avoiding taking responsibility for things we need to be improving upon as leaders?

If we can wrap our heads around these things, we can lessen the chances that we’re missing opportunities to not only improve ourselves as leaders, but also to be servant leaders who effect positive change within our teams and organizations.

10 Coworkers You Want to Kick in the Keister

keisterkickThere is no such thing as a perfect workplace. No. Such. Thing. Every organization’s got its own quirks and oddities. Just for kicks, here are some of the folks you’ll see around just about any organization. Please resist the urge to shout out your colleagues’ names as you read.

1. The Smooth Operators

These folks, they know exactly what to say and how to say it. They’re often fantastic with customers and act just the way they’re supposed to around certain people. But around others, they’re cynical, arrogant jackasses. But smooth cynical, arrogant jackasses.

2. The Beggars

Like they’re begging you to fire them. They do just enough not to get canned, but are so subversive and are such an awful influence on others. Often though, beggars put on a friendly air, but with just enough sarcasm that you know they’re being sarcastic.

jersey-shore-season-313. The No-Talent Ass Clowns

Somehow these jokers have survived in your organization for years on nothing but their ability to make folks chuckle from time to time. They put out just enough barely-mediocre work to keep their boss at bay, but they’re such a burden to any team they’re on because they’re not really interested in performing at a high level, improving their own performance, and so on.

4. The Ultracrepidarians

You know the type. They’re the ones who love to give advice and criticism about anything and everything, which isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself; but these guys do it from a position of acting like they know everything about everything. (And yes, Ultracrepidarian is a real word. Hat tip to those kids who made fun of me when I was but a wee lad. It sent me to the dictionary and thesaurus so I’d never be unarmed in a battle of wits ever again.)

5. The Curmudgeons

These cranky crabs are always having bad days and believe the only way to make theirs better is to make yours worse. So they do.

6. The Slangwhangers

My seven British readers will enjoy this one. These are those loud, obnoxious people who you just want to kick in the shin so at least they will have adequate reason for sounding as loud and annoying as a donkey in heat. (Don’t ask.)

7. The Popinjays

The pretentious ones. They’re so vain they probably think this post is about them.

8. The Malfeasants

They’re always breaking rules and doing things they’re not supposed to be doing. No matter how tight or loose your guidelines are, these guys are always pushing it anyway. Got a five-minute grace period before you officially count someone as late for work? Yeah, they’re coming in at six after.

9. The Wikipediots

Everything. They know everything. Well, they know everything about three and a half minutes into a conversation they’re sitting in on. In those three minutes they’ve looked up the topic on Wikipedia and memorized what they perceive to be the main points, as well as some more obscure facts to give the impression that they understand the finer nuances of whatever you’re discussing. Just for kicks sometime, start talking about a word that isn’t a word and ask them what they think about it. Watch them squirm, check their phone, then squirm some more.

complaining10. The Fuss-Buckets

They find something to complain about with everything, and I mean everything. It may sound something like this:

Relaxed dress code? Great. But I still can’t wear my tankini? How lame.

Or this:

I think you can have fun at work too, but there’s a time for work and a time for fun.

Or this:

With all that laughing it’s a wonder they get anything done…

So look, if you’re one of these, don’t be too hard on yourself; you’re certainly not alone. We’re all human and we’ve all got our “stuff.” As teammates and leaders, it’s on us to help everyone from the Smooth Operators to the Fuss-Buckets grow and mature and develop, remembering that we’re far from perfect ourselves.