Call Shari 303-863-0948 or Email Us

Contact us for virtual speaking and training!

Posts Tagged ‘holding people accountable’

Don’t Apologize for Giving Feedback

Last week we had movers in our warehouse moving products in and out of storage. The movers charged by the hour. Shortly after they arrived, I noticed one of the movers on his phone. Then I noticed another on his phone. I didn’t say anything. The phone use continued. So, I politely asked the two movers to only use their phones when they were on a break. And then I felt badly about saying something and spent the rest of the day apologizing. I didn’t want them to think I was ‘mean’.

I know it was ok to hold them accountable. I was paying a lot of money for their time. It was completely reasonable to expect them to be working. But I want to be liked and approved of (yes, even by the movers who I’ll never see again).

Every time I apologized or sought to justify my message, my communication lost power. Why say anything if I’m going to spend the day regretting and retracting my message?

After the experience with the movers, I realized how often I apologize for making requests, even perfectly legitimate and modest requests. And I’m wondering why I do this? Are we taught it’s not ok to ask for things?

Making requests is a subtle form of giving feedback. It’s less direct than what I call the “tell method.”

It’s ok to have expectations. It’s ok to make requests. And it’s ok to hold people accountable.  I know this. You know this. And yet, I see how often I and others apologize for making requests and giving feedback. I feel like we need a regular pep talk – a little bird whispering in our ear each time we ask someone to do what we hired them to do. “It’s ok to ask. You aren’t mean. It’s ok to hold people accountable. If people don’t want to do the work they agreed to or can’t accept feedback, they’re not the right people.”

I’ll just keep giving myself that pep talk, because it’s ok to ask and not feel badly about it.


Manage Your Career by Helping Your Coworkers Be Successful

When the people we work with don’t do their jobs, we might find ourselves saying, “He should be more on top of things.” “She shouldn’t make commitments she can’t keep.” “He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that’s not my problem.” The challenge is, when your coworkers don’t perform, it is your problem.

When your coworkers don’t get you the information you need in a timely way, you miss deadlines. When you work from incorrect information, your reports are wrong. When others don’t work with you, you look bad. So you can be right all day about how others perform, and your reputation will still be negatively impacted.

I don’t suggest you enable your coworkers by doing the work others don’t. I do suggest you help your coworkers be successful by holding them accountable.

Here are a few things you can do to manage your career and get what you need from your business relationships: 

  1. Don’t assume others will meet deadlines. Check in periodically and ask, “What’s been done so far with the XYZ project?” Notice, I didn’t suggest asking, “How are things going with the XYZ project.” “How are things going” is a greeting, not a question.
  2. Set iterative deadlines. If May 20th is your drop-dead deadline, ask to see pieces of work incrementally. “Can I see the results of the survey on May 5th, the write-up on May 10th, and the draft report on May 15th?” One of the biggest mistakes managers and project managers make is not practicing good delegation by setting iterative deadlines and reviewing work as it’s completed.
  3. Don’t just email and ask for updates. The people you work with are overwhelmed with email, and email is too passive. Visit people’s offices or pick up the phone.

You might be thinking, “Holding my coworkers accountable is awkward. I don’t have the formal authority, and I don’t want my coworkers to think I’m bossy or damage my business relationships.”

It’s all in the how you make requests.

If you’ve seen me speak or have read the business book How to Say Anything to Anyone, you know I believe in setting clear expectations at the beginning of anything new. That could sound something like, “I’m looking forward to working with you on the XYZ project. How would you feel if we set iterative deadlines, so we can discuss work as it is completed? You’ll get just-in-time input, making any necessary adjustments as we go, and we’ll stay ahead of schedule. How does that sound? How are the 5th, 10th, and 15th as mini deadlines for you?”

Many people put large projects off until the last minute. People procrastinate less when large projects are broken into smaller chunks with correlating deadlines. You strengthen your business relationships and support people in meeting deadlines and not procrastinating when you agree on completion dates when projects begin. Also, most of us unfortunately know what it’s like to put a lot of work into a project, have someone review our completed work, and then be told we went down the wrong path and need to start over.

Ask more. Assume less. Don’t assume your coworkers will do what they’re supposed to do. Ask upfront to see pieces of work on agreed-upon dates. Pick up the phone versus rely on email to communicate, and know that the people you work closely with are a reflection of you. Get people working with you, and everyone will look good.


Don’t apologize for yourself

Since having a child, the words “I’m sorry” have taken over my life. “I’m sorry I missed your birthday.” “I’m sorry I’m delayed in replying.” “I’m sorry I missed your call.” “I’m sorry it took me four months to send you a thank you card.” These two words come out of my mouth so often that they’ve taken over my vocabulary.take resposibility

I’m a big fan of taking responsibility and personal accountability. I think being accountable is easier than passing the buck. When I’m accountable, I have more power and control. When someone else is accountable, I have neither. But there’s a difference between being accountable and apologizing for yourself.

Last week I vowed to stop saying, “I’m sorry.” And yet, the next words out of my mouth were apologetic.  Apologizing for oneself is so natural, it’s pervasive, aka, a hard habit to break.

Below are a few strategies for being accountable but not apologetic:

  1. Be accountable: Establish clear priorities and boundaries.  When I had a child, I set very clear guidelines for myself on work hours and travel practices. And I stick to those 99% of the time. Having clearly established boundaries makes decision making easy.
  2. Be accountable: Only commit to things you know you will do. For personal situations, only commit to things you genuinely want to do.
  3. Be accountable: Tell the truth. If you don’t plan to do something, say so, without apology. “Thank you but no” has a lot of power.
  4. Be accountable: Know your limits and what you need to be healthy and functioning at an optimum level. If you need eight hours of sleep, structure your life to get it. If you need weekends focused on your family, do that. If a trip home this summer feels like too much, don’t go. Taking care of yourself enables you to take care of others.
  5. Be accountable: Renegotiate when you need to. If you realize something you agreed to isn’t feasible or in your best interest, renegotiate versus suffer through it. Or, keep your commitment, but don’t recommit the next time a similar opportunity or request comes around.
  6. Be accountable: Be careful where you invest your energy. I love my family and friends, and they will never get a printed party invitation or holiday card from me. Ever. I want to do both. I really do. But just thinking about collecting addresses puts me over the edge.
  7. Be accountable: Give yourself a break. You’re doing the best you can. You’re a human like everyone else. We’re all doing the best we can.

Being accountable isn’t being perfect. It’s being human with points for effort. Be yourself. Take care of yourself. And do your best, unapologetically.

magnets


Sign Up

Career tips
you won't get
elsewhere. Sign up
to get a free
tip card.