Being accountable means sharing and asking for feedback regularly
Let’s start with a short quiz. Answer each question with a Yes or No:
Do you consider yourself a good professional?
Do you believe you demonstrate accountability for what you do?
Do you share feedback with your colleagues on a regular basis?
Do you ask for feedback from you colleagues on a regular basis?
If you answered all four questions with a Yes – good for you! If you answered some of the questions with a No, well, you might want to keep reading.
Accountability is one of the key characteristics of high-performing teams. It means that everyone in the team feels aligned and committed to the common goal, and all team members have certain expectations to themselves and also to the others in the team. Whenever those expectations are unmet, team members demonstrate their commitment by holding each other accountable for the results, and helping each other improve, so that the team can do better the next time. And this requires sharing open and direct feedback that supports team and individuals’ growth.
Think of feedback as a present…
It’s very humane to have a hard time when you need to give somewhat negative feedback to another person. Or when you receive some criticism for your own work. This is a huge problem in many teams I work with. People prefer to keep their observations and recommendations to themselves, or channel them through the manager, fearing they might get into a conflict with a colleague. Eventually, this behavior signals for a more profound problem – lack of trust in the team, which prevents open and honest conversation that can help the team improve continuously.
To overcome this situation, I often encourage teams to think about feedback as a present, regardless of whether they are on the giving or on the receiving side. Usually, when you choose a present, you do it with the best of intentions, so that it brings real value or pleasure to the person who will receive it. This is how we shall give our feedback too – with respect and intention to help and bring value.
When we are on the receiving side, the same metaphor holds true. Think about receiving a present that you don’t really like or need. You won’t throw it back at the person who gives it to you, will you? Because you know the person put effort and best intentions into picking it. Most probably, you will take the present, say “Thank you”, and decide what to do with it later. You can do the same with feedback. If it is useful, take it and use it to become even better at what you do. If it doesn’t help you, don’t fight with the person who gives it to you. Just say “Thanks”, take whatever is useful, and ignore the rest.
Follow some simple rules for feedback
Establishing feedback culture in the team might be easier if you follow a few simple rules. You can even print them out and post them on the wall as a reminder.
Provide direct feedback
It’s best to provide the feedback directly to the person it concerns. Don’t ask their manager to forward it to them, just go and talk to the person directly.
Share feedback as soon as possible
Provide your feedback immediately after the situation you want to discuss, because it gives you the opportunity to share relevant details.
Be as specific as possible and share your personal perspective
This will help the person see the situation from a different viewpoint and understand how his or her behavior impacted you and your relations.
To support the team into learning to share feedback in a structured way, you can use the Feedback Cards. They present a simple template that helps team members formulate direct and specific feedback.
Giving and receiving feedback is really not that hard – it just requires awareness and some tools that make it easy.
Your pad of 100 cards for providing feedback and start being accountable!