Look Again

May 7th, 2013  | 

Published in Accountability

16 Questions for Leaders

When it comes to accountability in the workplace, it’s tempting to shine the spotlight on people when the results we get are not the results we want.

After all, people are the ones doing – or not doing – the work.

So it can be easier to blame a person than to drill down to discover the real reasons things aren’t getting done to your satisfaction.

In the accountability workshops I’ve given in the U.S., Canada and U.K., I ask a series of questions about promises that are broken to customers and clients.

The finding that emerges again and again is that the organizations I work with do everything in their power to make sure the promises they make to their customers are being kept.

Sure, there are near-misses that occur along the way inside the organization, and, yes, even high performing organizations drop the ball from time to time when it comes to meeting customer expectations.

When these misses and near-misses occur with customers, the reason is almost always because the promises that are being broken are the promises colleagues are breaking with each other. In the series of questions I ask about these breakdowns, the final question is, “Could this near-miss have been prevented?”

Most of the time, the answer is yes.

Before reaching the conclusion that people are at fault, guide yourself through this process for achieving more of what you want. Answer these 16 questions for leaders.

The First Look

In my latest book, That’s A Great Question, I’ve collected more than 500 of the most provocative questions I’ve asked very successful people to help them get more of what they want out of their business…and their life.

As a leader, you may have found that as your responsibility grows, you’re working harder than ever. You may have some nice grown-up toys and you’re still in charge, but you may find you’re spending more time away from your personal pursuits of happiness than you’d like. Or that the work you’re doing is less fulfilling than it once was.

If any of these scenarios resonate with you, take a look at yourself by answering these four fundamental questions:

  1. What do I want out of life?
  2. Is my business helping me get it or keeping me from it?
  3. If not, what am I bartering my life for?
  4. What’s the impact of not achieving my life goals?

Your answers may provide insight on whether your purpose lines up with the work you’re doing.

The Second Look

You can’t hold others accountable until you know what matters to you. That’s the first look.

The “Second Look” is ensuring that what matters to you matters to your team.

We all belong to clubs. One of these clubs is the place where we work.

Clubhouses have rules, and our workplace has rules, too. Some are formal policies. Others are unwritten. The sum of this behavior is our culture. We’d like to believe that our culture reflects our values, beliefs, principles. Often, that’s not the case.

Take a fresh look at your workplace and answer these four questions:

  1. If an impartial observer visited our organization, what would that person see, hear and experience?
  2. How would this observed behavior align with or vary from the behavior we desire?
  3. What’s causing this behavior?
  4. Do the values we say are important align with the behavior we’re getting?

The great paradox in the workplace is that most organizations have values that they do not value.

The Third Look

If your values are just cheap words, accountability will be an uphill battle for you and your team.

And while I’ve learned there’s no silver bullet for accountability, one key to accountability is that clarity creates confidence. The clearer the expectation – for yourself, your organization, for others – the greater the likelihood you’ll get the results you say you want.

For your “Third Look,” examine how well your values and expectations are showing up.

  1. Do we hire for “skill” or hire for “will”?
  2. Does everyone know what’s expected of them to achieve our vision?
  3. How clearly have we communicated the rewards and penalties related to individual, departmental, and organizational performance?
  4. How do our people connect what they’re doing to what we’re measuring?

It’s almost impossible to over-communicate. How are you doing?

The Fourth Look

Mistakes happen. Under-performance is a pattern.

For your “Fourth Look,” answer these questions:

  1. Whose job am I doing today?
  2. What’s our process for addressing under-performance?
  3. How much time am I willing to invest in an under-performing employee? How much time can the organization afford to invest in an under-performing employee?
  4. Have we earned the reputation of walking our talk?

Free accountability assessment

I’m currently writing a book on accountability, and I’ve created an online accountability assessment that is available for free the rest of this month. The book’s coming along nicely but I’m just applying the finishing touches before we go ahead and publish it. It’s currently in the Proofreading stage which should be completed shortly. I can’t wait to hear what you all think.

The assessment is completely confidential and takes about 10 minutes. The assessment will help you pinpoint areas of strength and identify opportunities for improvement. Once you’ve completed the assessment, I’ll review your answers and email you your confidential report.

Remember that, “When you point a finger, four come back at you.”

So before you point a finger at others, take a fresh look at yourself.

Before you blame people, take a fresh look at your processes.

About the Author: Greg Bustin is an executive coach, consultant and speaker who has delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. www.bustin.com Greg advises leaders at some of the world’s most admired companies, and his views about leadership have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, Leader to Leader, and other major publications. He’s written five leadership books. His newest book, How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices (Sourcebooks), examines decision-making in history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies. How Leaders Decide

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