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The 3 Ds of Avoiding Accountability That Can Affect Performance Management

By Darren Finkelstein
By Darren Finkelstein

The Accountability Guy®

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When it comes to effectively leading a team, taking responsibility for your actions is critical. What’s more, you need to ensure that your team members understand the importance of the same.

However, there are instances where it’s difficult to gauge who’s accountable for something. That’s not to say that no one should be held responsible. The denial, deflection, and diffusion of the situation prevent you from figuring out who it should be. 

This article, then, will discuss those three factors or, as you would simply call them, the 3 Ds. More importantly, there needs to be an examination of how they impact performance management.

Before diving into that, you should understand what concepts such as ‘accountability’ and ‘performance management’ mean. Read on to see how the two are closely tied to each other. 

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The Perfect Marriage Between Accountability And Performance Management

Accountability is, essentially, taking responsibility for the things you say you will do. Consider this example. You say you’re going to submit a project by a specific deadline. If you don’t, you need to be held accountable for non-submission. It’s simple as that.

Conversely, performance management ensures that a set of activities and actions efficiently meet an organization’s goal.

For instance, your company needs to draft proposals for two different projects. The first project is larger in scope than the second one. However, only seven available individuals can work on the two projects.

An appropriate way to ensure that the team can efficiently finish the project proposals is to allocate people accordingly. Let 4 people work on the larger project while 3 work on the smaller one.

That’s what good performance management looks like. Granted, it all depends on whether the team members hold themselves accountable for submitting the proposal.

Do you see where it all begins to fall into place? Just think of performance management as a vehicle. The concept of accountability is what fuels that vehicle. 

No matter where you go, you will find that the top-performing teams anywhere hold themselves accountable for their actions.

Now that a foundation has been established, you need to understand how the 3 Ds of avoiding accountability obstruct performance management. 

The 3 Dreaded Ds

Take a look at how the ideas of ‘denial,’ ‘deflection’, and ‘diffusion’ are detrimental to managing team performance.

1. Denial of the situation

When first confronted with an issue, a team member can often deny it outright. For that individual, denial can seem like an easy way to stop themselves from being held accountable.

However, what this does is essentially prevent exploring any possible solutions. There’s no way to reach an effective resolution if two parties don’t agree on the problem in the first place.

One suggestion to work around this would be to have solid evidence of the addressed issue. From reports to individual testimony, anything that establishes the legitimacy of your concern will be helpful here.

2. Deflection of responsibility

This is perhaps the most common issue that many organizational leaders face. For instance, an individual may attempt to shift the focus to another department when being addressed about a particular concern.

This prevents an active discussion of the issue and needlessly wastes time. Statements such as ‘XYZ department doesn’t have to follow this rule’ are examples of deflection.

It’s crucial that you immediately put an end to this. One way of doing that is to drive home that the only topic of discussion is the issue at hand. Effectively relay that another department, and its performance, is irrelevant to what you want to talk about.  

3. Diffusion of the problem

Often, you will find that others may try to downplay the severity of a problem when you attempt to address it.

Take this example. You address the work performance of a team member as not being up to par. In response, they may downplay your concerns in a favorable manner to them. 

Making statements that imply a project didn’t need a high-quality performance is one such example of diffusion.

Try an approach that lets the individual know that the matter is severe and not subject to dismissal. When you demonstrate your convictions in this context, you will find that most people will start regarding the issue with the same seriousness.

Wrapping up

Being a good leader is about much more than just pointing out the shortcomings of your team. You need to provide avenues and solutions that help them rise above those things.

Ingraining the significance of being accountable for one’s actions is the first step to providing that avenue. After all, there is no way to approach efficient performance management without first being responsible for what you say or do.

Still, it is indeed challenging to navigate all of this successfully. Thus, seeking guidance from reliable and professional services, such as TickThoseBoxes, could help you immensely in this regard.

Then, an accountability coach will not tell where you need to take your company. That vision is yours alone. They are, essentially, going to highlight the most effective path to your destination.