Hold People Accountable the SIMPLE Way

by Matthew on October 21, 2013

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We’ve all heard the expression “if you want something done right, do it yourself”. This stems from the frustration people often encounter when working with others which is mostly caused by poor communication. When working with others it is important that everyone is on the same page and know’s without a doubt who’s doing what, when things will be done and what exactly is expected. All too often the person delegating/setting the task has a different idea of what will be delivered than the person executing the task, often causing delays in project delivery and frustration between everyone involved.

Here’s a framework that ensure’s that what get’s set, get’s done. Every time. It is typically used by managers/leaders to get their employee’s working more efficiently but it also works with clients, colleagues, and anytime you are asking another person to do something.

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The S.I.M.P.L.E. Approach

Yup, S.I.M.P.L.E. is an acronym.

Set Expectations
Invite Commitment
Measure Progress
Provide Feedback
Link to Consequences
Evaluate Effectiveness

Set Expectations

The person who is to perform the task needs to know what is expected of them before you can hold them accountable. Be clear in what you expect from the task, the clearer you are in this stage prevents time wasted in clarifying things or arguing later down the track. Never assume anything and use as much detail as possible – the person you are setting the task for may have a different idea of what quality is expected and what is to be done. By giving the person strict instructions and a clear explanation of what you require them to do, you will avoid having the person you’re dealing with saying things like “I’m sorry, I thought that’s what you wanted?” and help ensure you get the end result you’re looking for.

Invite Commitment

After choosing the right person for the task, invite all parties to commit. People want to know what’s in it for them and how it effects the organisation. Just because the person you set the task for knows what to do (from the first step) doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

Setting a task for someone without them even knowing it exists is a sure fire way to ensure the task either doesn’t get done or get’s done incorrectly. All too often I see people setting tasks via email without talking to that individual in person first – what if they haven’t checked their inbox?

Measure Progress

Measure the success/failure of the task to hold the person responsible accountable. Is the report delivered early? On time? Late? Or not at all? Remember to measure throughout the process and not just wait till the end – more on that in the next step.

Provide Feedback

Provide feedback to all parties and stress what can be improved. At first, this should be done before the task is due to ensure that it is being done correctly. Depending on the task you may want to do this several times. It should be done around the halfway point as a bare minimum. Feedback is also necessary on the completion of the task! People need to know where they’ve done a good job and also understand area’s where they can improve.

Link to Consequences

Be clear with the consequences of not adhering to the expectations and commitment of the task. This doesn’t refer to punishment of the person but to what will be missed out on if the task doesn’t get done correctly and on time. IE: not doing a certain task correctly/on-time may result in them not achieving their personal goals. I’ve found this has worked as great motivation when working with external parties who are looking to impress their boss.

Evaluate Effectiveness

Evaluate how effective the overall process has been. Did it produce the results it was supposed to? Did you set the expectations clearly? Did you provide feedback along the way? Where can you improve in executing the process? These are all things to think about to ensure you’re constantly improving in holding people accountable and helping the people you work with in achieving results. One of the most important things is to hold yourself accountable for holding others accountable.

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The “SIMPLE approach” when used effectively is a great way to ensure effective communication and quality, on-time task completion. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

For more learnings on accountability, check out the following books, all of which I highly recommend.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

jj October 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

Good point from a managers point of view.. but it will always be seen differently by employees..

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Matthew October 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm

That’s why it is so important for management to understand this concept and coach their employee’s on how it works so both parties can work better together!

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Nicole October 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

Very well written and can totally relate in our organisation – now for Management to drive the change!

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Matthew October 23, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Thanks Nicole! If it’s something that makes sense to you then I’d suggest to lead by example and experience it’s success. From there it’s much easier to have a conversation with your management team to explain the benefits of this method and get them on board!

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Shawn December 4, 2013 at 7:21 am

I love the perspective that using this approach reduces frustration in general. We often blame others when we’re frustrated but instead we should take the onus upon ourselves to clarify our expectations and reduce our own frustration. Let’s take the responsibility for improving our workplaces and live upon ourselves!

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Matthew December 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Exactly! You got it!

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