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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #80
(June 23, 2020)

How to Defeat the 4-D's of Low/No Accountability

I have long been a believer that behaviors speak the truth—that what people DO speaks volumes about who they are; their values; their principles; their moral compass.

What people DO isn't some random act. People make choices about their actions, words and attitudes by comparing and contrasting the INPUTS (their contextual perceptions of the situation) with their VABEs (their values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations). Each choice they make is selected from a spectrum of choices, constructed by the rational/emotional mind, based on forecasts of possible reaction(s) and possible consequence(s). You—as this person's manager—may observe the manifestation of this behavioral 'choice' as normal (and expected), or as a little odd (given the circumstances) or, possibly, completely irrational.

This is the fascinating part of human behavior. A behavior doesn't have to make sense to you ... but it will always make sense to the person exhibiting the behavior—at least up to the point of doing the selected behavior. (This is why most people have had situations after saying or doing something when they've asked themselves “What was I thinking?” )

The topic of this week's issue is accountability, specifically the 4-D's we've come to associate with someone who has low or no accountability: Defend, Deflect, Deny, and Disengage. The behavioral drivers behind an individual choosing one (or all) of these behaviors—especially in a workplace setting—is much more complex than we will have time to address today. However, knowing that these unproductive behaviors actually do make sense to the individual, I encourage you to hit the 'pause' button, and be curious, rather than bite the hook and react immediately (even if that's what would feel right). The power of a good question or a good positioning statement may help unravel the mystery of the behavioral choice being made, and, ultimately, assist you in navigating through this potential minefield.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

In my experience, it's rarely effective to directly criticize someone for not being accountable or for not taking responsibility for their actions. Quite the opposite. Instead, they're likely to evoke some variation on the 4-D's listed above. This week (starting today), try out the '4-D Defeating' HVAs below:

  • The majority of dysfunctional low/no accountability behavior is rooted in defensiveness. In essence, it's simply a desire to protect oneself from situations perceived as threatening. Defensiveness is usually demonstrated passively by avoiding perceived threats by flying below the radar screen. Less common, but more extreme will be those individuals who are aggressively defensive, attacking or criticizing others to deflect undue scrutiny on themselves. Your Response: Describe your observation(s) and be specific about the behavior you're observing. Then discuss the impact of this observed behavior on the team, on the customer, or on the organization (many people lack self-awareness of how they're impacting others). Finally, use a question like "In light of the situations I described, what steps are necessary to overcome those obstacles?"
  • "I'm a victim!" Have you ever dealt with an employee who sounds like this—maybe not with these words, but just as dramatically? For these individuals, everything that goes wrong is the result of someone else being unhelpful or too demanding or getting in their way. People who exhibit this behavior are typically convinced that they're right (although the jury is out as to whether they're just extremely low in self-awareness or if they're actually deluding themselves). Your Response: Resist the 'SuperHero' urge. While it's so easy to "come to the rescue" of those with a victim mindset, all that will be accomplished is you will absolve them of responsibility. This rarely (if ever) turns out well for the individual or for you. Instead, start asking questions that focus on the end result you are expecting. In essence, help them focus on where they're going to, not on what they're going through.

Creating a Culture of Accountability isn’t easy, but it will make a significant impact on your leadership and business results. Use these HVAs to streamline the accountability process and make it an everyday part of your leadership approach.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."

— Moliere —