Do some of your team members have a mindset that is self-serving, with an attitude of independence from the pack? Are they minimalists who define their success in personal, individualistic terms rather than strongly linking their efforts to the big picture and to ensuring that they play a dynamic role in project outcomes and team orientated results?
Solo artists challenge high performance by thwarting the valued hallmarks of ownership and accountability. Sadly, according to a landmark multi-year workplace accountability study involving over 40,000 participants, ‘Partners in Leadership ®’, report that this noxious orientation is on the rise.
In the study, the concept of ‘accountability’ emerged as one of the more significant factors playing a role in a company’s success, but results also showed a significant decline in that space.
Authors of recent bestseller ‘Crucial Accountability’ share a VitalSmarts case study stating that, “When an IT group improved crucial accountability practices by 22%, quality improved over 30%, productivity climbed almost 40%, and costs plummeted almost 50%, all while employee satisfaction swelled 20%”.
This provides a strong case for the findings that business results will strongly reflect the degree to which team members are able to serve the whole, not just the part, but how as leaders do we engender this?
Here are five tips for converting solo participants into team players with an enhanced sense of commitment to group goals.
- Create a trusting environment:
Set expectations for team engagement that is non-judgmental, accepting, respectful and gracefully honest. When team members feel ‘safe’ with each other, they are willing to risk vulnerability to the group, and will contribute ideas, suggestions, and constructive feedback without fearing hidden agendas, ridicule, cynicism or one upmanship. Interpersonal trust is key.
- Encourage robust discussion:
Once a safe environment has been created, generate round table solution-focused conversation in which everyone provides input. Having the opportunity to have ones’ ideas heard and considered inspires ownership of and participation in any eventual strategic plan of action agreed upon.
- Communicate a clear vision:
Everyone needs to know exactly what it is they are going to be accountable to. Make it your responsibility to clarify in detail the desired end result of any plan of action, decision, or goal. Ensure that not only is a vivid picture of desired outcomes painted but also that the team has a clear view of the process and attributes for engagement to which they are to hold each other accountable.
- Ensure commitment
Having confirmed that the team understands the rules of the accountability game, what ‘success’ looks like and their specific role within that dynamic, request a pledge- A commitment to those exact actions, work values and attitudes that will certify the outcome envisioned comes to fruition, placing team results over ego issues.
- Promote real-time peer feedback
Having set the scene for the creation of an environment that serves as an effective framework for accountability, all good intentions will crumble as soon as a blind eye is turned to low performance standards. Provide your team with both your permission and expectation that each will hold the other accountable- responsible to a primary focus on agreed results and all the enacted team values and behaviours that go hand in hand with making that happen.
None of us can be forced to think or behave in a prescribed fashion. The driving motivation to ‘be accountable’ must come from within, but may be influenced from without. Encouraging a team sense of trust, inclusion, respect, and of being a valued contributor to an envisioned end result, will help to pull lone wolves from their protective lairs.
Written by Muffy Churches, an executive coach, keynote kpeaker, leadership specialist, and career counsellor.