According to VitalSmarts’ recent poll, three in four employees quickly attribute their coworkers’ bad behavior to lack of motivation while a mere one in ten consider ability deficits. As a result, they avoid holding difficult colleagues accountable, turn to costly workarounds, and enable the very problems they loathe.
Those who openly consider the reason behind the obstinate behavior are far more apt to speak up. Because they understand there is a cause to the effect, they are more likely to explore potential motivation and ability barriers to the unsatisfactory performance, and often report success in resolving the issue.
Here are three tips from VitalSmarts for holding coworkers accountable by correctly diagnosing their toxic behavior:
1. Identify the right problem. When approaching your coworker, think “CPR” (Content, Pattern, Relationship). Our natural inclination is to talk content—the immediate offense. But if and when your coworker continues to behave poorly, it’s time to talk about the pattern of bad behavior. If the infraction continues, talk about the long-term damage the pattern is having on your relationship of trust and reliability.
2. Make it motivating. If the perpetrator is able to comply, but chooses not to, make the invisible visible. Talk about the effects of his or her behavior on other employees, customers, stakeholders, etc.
3. Make it easy. When the problem is not due to motivation, then it’s likely due to an ability barrier. Maybe your expectations are unrealistic. Maybe you didn’t provide him or her with the right tools. Maybe he or she is constrained because of bureaucracy. Find out what’s hindering them and make the necessary changes. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for your coworker to meet the expectation.
By learning how to talk about violated expectations, broken commitments, and bad behavior in a way that solves problems while improving relationships, you’ll increase individual, team and organizational effectiveness. Contact me to bring an Accountability Workshop to your organization.
For every hundred men hacking away at the branches of a diseased tree, only one will stoop to inspect the roots.– Chinese proverb.