Increasing Personal Accountability

I regularly work with teams in the course of my job. The members change, the tasks are different, the timelines vary—but, one thing I have seen far too often is dysfunctional behaviors that get in the way of success.

I’m not talking about miscommunication, a few dropped balls, or workload challenges. While not easy, these are the issues that are part of our every day working life. I’m talking about true dysfunction that often manifests itself in backbiting and nastiness and leads to dissatisfaction and morale issues (not to mention lost productivity).

If you are leading a team that includes this type of dysfunction, it can be exhausting. Many a leader has said to me, “If we could focus this energy on getting the work done (satisfying customers), think how successful we would be.”

Several years ago I read a wonderful little book about building personal accountability (QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®, John G. Miller, ©2004, QBQ, Inc.). For leaders trying to address team dysfunction, it can be a great tool to help reinforce the practice of personal accountability and the power of choice.

While the ideas outlined in the book are not the end all to improving dysfunctional teams, they are a great start. The premise of the book is that we make better choices in the moment by asking better questions. The author offers three guidelines to help us ask better questions. I have found them to be extremely helpful in creating ‘aha’ moments for members of truly dysfunctional teams.

The three guidelines are:

Creating an environment of personal accountability focuses on changing ourselves, not others.

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