Nobody likes a micromanager. But when someone on your team isn't delivering, it can be hard not to do it!

Management Coach Jonathan Raymond has developed a communication framework - The Accountability Dial -  which you can use to decide how to hold your team accountable but avoid slipping into "micromanager" territory.

Accountability without Micromanagement
Accountability without Micromanagement

The five levels to help increase accountability are:

  • The Mention
  • The Invitation
  • The Conversation
  • The Boundary
  • The Limit

Let's take a closer look at the levels in use:  

The Mention is a casual check-in. You’d say something like:

“Hey Anna, you missed our Zoom call this morning, is everything okay?”

The Invitation is a quick, private chat. This time, you’d be a little more serious:

“Anna, I’ve mentioned your attendance on all-hands meetings a few times … what’s the pattern here?”

The Conversation has a more serious tone- this time, you’re expressing urgency about the issue:

“Anna, your absence from important meetings is starting to affect the team. Can we talk about how to resolve this?”

The Boundary is a warning conversation. You’re going to lay out consequences:

“Anna - If your ability to attend meetings doesn’t change, we may have to question your commitment to the role.”

Finally, The Limit is a sign that you’ll probably need to part ways. But it’s also a way of offering one last chance for improvement:

‘Anna, this is your final warning to improve your attendance at company meetings. Your absence is causing friction - it’s unacceptable. We’ve had this conversation before and there hasn’t been an improvement.”

Now, let’s talk about how you’d use these in a few quick scenarios:

Let’s say your team member turned her work in two hours late but is normally a great performer. For this, you’d use The Mention. It’s not a big deal yet, and it’s the first time it happened - so you’re checking in to make sure everything’s alright and to give her the opportunity to take accountability.

In scenario 2, your team member has turned in late work 2 weeks in a row. It’s becoming a pattern and you’re getting concerned. For this, you’d use The Invitation to bring awareness to the problem. 

In scenario 3, your team member is consistently not turning work in on time and starting to affect your clients. For this, you’d use The Conversation - it’s urgent and you need to clearly state that it’s causing problems. 

In scenario 4, your team member is still falling behind and not acting upon your feedback. For this, you’d use The Boundary, and state the consequences of not following through. 

In scenario 5, your team member is blatantly not improving, and may not even seem to be trying. For this, you’d use The Limit - it’s the last resort chat, and if things don’t improve within 2 weeks, you’ll plan to part ways.

And there you have it! Next time you'd like to increase accountability, just choose which dial to use. 

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