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From Avoidance to Action: Strategies for Overcoming Accountability Issues in Your Team

From Avoidance to Action: Strategies for Overcoming Accountability Issues in Your Team

3 min read


When it is unclear to team members what is expected of them, it isn't always easy to call out one of your team members when they are not performing their tasks. Holding each other accountable is utterly important if you want high-performing teams!

In Patrick Lencioni's book the five dysfunctions of a team, the fourth dysfunction is "The avoidance of accountability".

What is accountability?

Accountability refers specifically to the willingness of team members to call their peers on their performance or behaviors that are hurting the team.

Why should you hold your team mates accountable?

If your team members prefer to withhold themselves from interpersonal discomfort that comes from calling a peer on his or her behaviors, you are lowering your standards, and you are damaging your team.

A common misconception is that calling out a team member hurts your relationship with him or her. When it actually is the contrary. The team only benefits from calling out on their hurtful behaviors. Why do you ask? Well, if you tolerate hurtful behaviors, you will come to resent that teammate because he or she is not living up to the expectations.

Suppose you fear going into conflict with one of your peers. You can learn more about why it is important to have a healthy debate.

How do you overcome avoidance of accountability?

Some simple management techniques are simple and effective in overcoming avoidance of accountability. If your team lacks commitment this can actually help them.

You can read more around creating more commitment in your team.

As a team leader, you can use the following techniques to hold your team members accountable:

Publication of goals and standards

When you create a plan to reach your goals, you should share it publicly. When everyone can see what was committed to and what standards and tasks are expected from each other, you create more accountability. People can't ignore agreements when they are in the open.

Publish team goals & key deliverables

Publish your team's goals in a public room for every colleague to see. This ensures the team feels peer pressure to achieve their collective goals. In all of your team meetings, you can revisit your team goals to remind your team members.

Simple and regular progress reviews

Building a structure around progress reviews can help people take action that they might not otherwise be inclined to do. Giving feedback at regular intervals on people's behaviors and performance can help a team improve every time.

Creating a feedback culture also helps. If team members give feedback regularly, in written form or verbally, about how they feel they are doing to the agreed-upon tasks and goals. They can change their behaviors more quickly.

Creating a feedback culture starts with the team leaders being the example. Leading by example is the first step to overcoming dysfunctional teams.

If you rely on your teammates to give feedback, you invite them to avoid their accountability. So building a simple structure around feedback will help them avoid their accountability.

One of the simplest ways to gather feedback is by running a team retrospective on a regular basis.

Team rewards

When you replace individual rewards with team rewards, you move the focus from the I to the team. Team members will hold each other more accountable when they see one of the team members slacking off.


Holding each other accountable is key to keeping a team's performance high! By creating a feedback culture with a simple structure around reviews, your teammates cannot look away from their responsibilities.

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