Why is holding your staff accountable so hard to do for many leaders?
It is hard because you are, as one author put it, confronting people on their performance and behavior.
Accountability doesn’t need to be hard and or super uncomfortable but it HAS to be consistent.
Accountability is keeping account of someone’s ability…hence the name ‘account-ability’. You are essentially saying “Your ability is at this level and you are performing under that level… and I want to challenge/call you to a higher level of performance because you are capable.”
I want to reiterate this point…In my experience, coaches are pretty good if not really good at holding athletes accountable.
The struggle is holding their staff accountable. You don’t get much, if any, training on this before you become a head coach. And because of that, it is a constraint for many leaders.
Hypothetical Example (that is probably playing out all over the country)
Let’s say assistant coach A is struggling in recruiting. Many leaders get internally frustrated and don’t say anything until this issue is long down the road.
They then approach assistant A and out of a growing frustration, they more or less lash out. Or they just simply get more and more internally frustrated.
There is usually one of three issues at hand.
There are usually patterns to these issues. Below are three patterns or possibilities that I often see.
1. Coach A is not skilled enough to recruit at the level you want him/her to. So, Coach A needs to grow in some skills.
2. Coach A is unable to recruit at the level you want because he/she doesn’t have the wiring/gifting to do it long term. Most people can grind it out in an area that isn’t a fit, but over time, it becomes harder and harder to operate outside your sweet spot. In this case, the fit is not good.
3. They don’t have the work ethic/motor to recruit at the level you want them to. In this case, again, they are not a good fit.
Stop Abdicatiing Your Leadership
As a leader, the quicker you run to the tension (recruiting has to pick up!) the quicker you start to delineate between what the real issue is.. a skill, talent, or motor issue.
But instead, leaders often put this conversation off. And it grows, and the issue is like the elephant in the room. This is an abdication of your leadership.
Another reason leaders procrastinate on confronting issues is when the issue is 2 or 3… intuitively we know where this is headed. Either your program suffers or you make a move. This is the hard reality of leadership.
Confronting is hard. Running to the tension is uncomfortable. But… the quicker you do it, the quicker you figure out the issue, the quicker you address it, the quicker everyone gets on the same page… the quicker you get the right people on the bus.
Things to Keep in Mind
PS. Often we think this is unfair or cruel to the assistant coach. In reality, the quicker you address the issue, the quicker they either grow in skill, motor or figure out the role is not a good fit. The worst thing we can do for the assistant is to avoid this issue (what elephant???).
PSS. I think it goes without saying that to have this conversation when you are completely frustrated doesn’t help. Instead of getting frustrated with the assistant, you should actually be frustrated with yourself. Treat the assistant with empathy, professionalism, and care. Low-level leaders are rude, take cheap shots, and treat the assistant as a nuisance.
In summary: Constantly be evaluating your staff to help them be all they can be. This is account-ability. Avoiding hard conversations does nobody any good.