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July 4, 2023

Accountability | Teamwork | Motivation

In the book “The 5 dysfunctions of a team”, the writer Patrick Lencioni, shares through a motivating story, 5 areas that can be an obstacle in the success of a team. I don’t want to be a book spoiler, so I won’t give you more details rather than encourage you to read the book.

However, the reason I mention it is because I want you to have in mind that accountability, teamwork and motivation are interconnected in several ways. Depending on the case, there is a high possibility that they have common roots but even if they don’t, they surely affect each other in multiple ways. To make the long story short, and because I promised to give you some tips and ideas on what to do with your team to enhance teamwork, accountability and motivation, here we go:

1. First and foremost make sure clarity is in place. Make sure you have a clear organizational structure where everyone knows what they are expected to be doing, to whom they report to, what is their field of responsibility, what are the goals they are chasing and how their contribution to these goals is going to be measured. Do you recognize the root cause here? Lack of Job descriptions, SOPs, SMART (Specific, Measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound) goals, priorities, performance metrics. To my experience several unhealthy conflicts within an organization, start because of unclarity in some of the above fields or all of them.

2. Give them resources. And by resources, I do not only mean tools and equipment, technology and raw materials but also enough people, training, financial & decision-making flexibility and authority according to their role. We cannot blame the team for underperformance or lack of motivation if they cannot cope with a huge workload, due to understaffing issues. Do you wonder also why all guest complaints end up to one person? You? Examine if you have trained your people to handle complaints effectively or if you have given them the actual authority to act without needing your permission for everything.

3. Build trust. Your team needs to trust you and each member of the team. They need to be able to speak to you openly without fear of judgment, misinterpretation, humiliation, or losing their job. They need to feel confident and supported enough to resolve a problem but at the same time safe enough to bring it directly to you (if they need to) without second thoughts and without hiding important facts. Moreover, they need to feel the same way with the rest of the team members. Foster a culture of mutual respect, acceptance, inclusion, trust and help, by setting first the example as their Leader. Recognize and celebrate successes, address any conflicts promptly and directly, encourage them to share best practices, knowledge and experience, ensure they all have common goals and priorities, organize team-building activities inside or outside work.  

4. Communicate and set clear communication lines with everyone. Do not leave this crucial task to others. Find ways to communicate with each member of your team, following THEIR personality and not yours. Do not expect, for example an introvert to come to you with problems or solutions. They are the last ones to express themselves in a group. You may need to encourage them to participate in a conversation or even approach them in private. Open difficult conversations yourself. Do not hide them under the carpet or postpone them for later. Make sure that your message (whatever it is) is clear to everyone. Make sure that everyone is aligned to this message and address any misalignments with the adequate and appropriate arguments on time. Inspire people by sharing the “why” – Not only the “what”.

5. Follow Up and give Feedback. When you give guidelines, priorities, deadlines make sure you follow up. Is everyone still “onboard”? Are they performing as expected? And if not why? Go back to points 1 and 2 first, before you do any other conversation or assumption. Give a constructive and honest feedback. Focus on specific actions, behaviors, deliverables, and impact. Not in personality traits and generalizations. Be punctual with your actions, timelines and promises. When you have given a specific deadline, set a reminder on your calendar to follow up before the end of the deadline and on the deadline day. If you have promised bonuses, make sure you give them on time. If you have announced consequences for specific reasons, make sure you apply them accordingly. If you miss the follow up step whether it is feedback, or a deadline, or a bonus or a consequence, then you set the wrong example yourself. You lose trust. You are the one who creates inconsistency first.

To sum up, accountability, teamwork and motivation, several times have common roots. Dig deep enough to find them and address them because if you won’t then they will surely affect each other. Start from basics before you end up in conclusions that have to do with incompetence, lack of interest, difficult behaviors. Have in mind that these may be the result and not the root cause.

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