Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability

Avoidance of Accountability resulting from Low Standards

Synopsis: If the members of the team are concerned they will insult their peers by questioning their decisions, they won’t ask the hard questions.

“Once we achieve clarity and buy-in, it is then that we have to hold each other accountable for what we sign up to do, for high standards of performance and behavior. And as simple as that sounds, most executives hate to do it, especially when it comes to a peer’s behavior” (Lencioni, 2002, p.98).
 “As hard as it is sometimes to enter the danger with your direct reports and confront them with something sticky, it’s even harder with your peers” (Lencioni, 2002, p.98).

“Because we’re supposed to be equals” (Lencioni, 2002, p.99).

 A team that avoids accountability... (Lencioni, 2002, p.214)
  • Creates resentment among team members who have different standards of performance
  • Encourages mediocrity
  • Misses deadlines and key deliverables
  • Places an undue burden on the team leader as the sole source of discipline

A team that holds one another accountable... (Lencioni, 2002, p.214)
  • Ensures that poor perfromers feel pressure to improve
  • Identifies potential problems quickly by questioning one another's approaches without hesitation
  • Establishes respect among team members who are held to the same high standards
  • Avoids excessive bureaucracy around performance management and corrective action

Suggestions for improving a team's accountability (Lencioni, 2002, ps. 214-215)
  • Publication of Goals and Standards - publicly declaring exactly what the team plans to achieve and complete enables the team to easily hold one another accountable.
  • Simple and Regular Progress Reviews - structure is an easy way to maintain accountablilty.  By regularly checking in with one another about both progress, performance and behavior, a team is more able and more inclined to keep one another accountable.
  • Team Rewards - instead of rewarding individuals, rewarding team achievement is an excellent way to motivate team members to continually hold one another accountable.

How does your team hold one another accountable?  How could your team be more effective at holding one another accountable?
(Please click on the 'comments' below and leave your response)


  1. I'm thinking of our "district library team" in Jeffco. In some ways we hold each other accountable by having lots of dialogue at meetings about progressive things we're doing in our schools. This, of course, is low pressure for some if they don't have much of a conscience. I wish our district could figure out a way to hold Teacher-Librarians to a higher standards because right now it is left to each principal to do it and their accountability varies greatly. It was difficult this past spring when many of us new,progressive Teacher Librarians lost our jobs to veterans who still spend their days doing story time and checking out books. Administrators need to hold these folks much more accountable!!!!!

  2. A simple way to hold one another accountable is to divide the duties/responsibilities between the group members. That way if someone drops the ball and omits that segment of a project, then you know exactly who to hold accountable.

  3. In thinking of my family, I know we could hold the children/teens more accountable if we posted our expectations somewhere highly visible, say the bathroom mirror, or the pantry door. We can provide progress reviews by indicating on the list of expectations how often we've noticed the expectation being met. We can thank them for getting things done. I know our expectations of the kids have seemed murky and this summer has been a summer of working on this.

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