Does the Idea of a Vacation Bring Excitement or Anxiety?

Time for a little self-reflection quiz: (please mentally respond with a simple Yes or No)

  1. Are you the go-to person for problem resolution?
  2. Are you feeling that all work being done on the team must have your fingerprint on it?
  3. Are you experiencing “groundhog day” with your employees when it comes to giving feedback (i.e., you keep having the same conversation because nothing is changing)?
  4. Are you on the edge of burn-out because if you take a vacation the wheels will fall off while you’re away?

If the majority of your responses were YES, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Eight skydivers in freefallLast week, I was conducting a leadership workshop and had several participants who have taken on leadership roles yet are more comfortable doing the work vs. leading the work. Like many in this situation, they found it difficult to let go and trust in another’s capabilities – it’s out of their comfort zone.

In digging deeper into their situations, it became evident that the common thread was about HOLDING PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE for their work results.

Swooping in to rescue or resolve problems without allowing team members to sort things out for themselves may feel good in the moment; however, in the long run, you’re just playing a game called stupid.

It’s time to think of ACCOUNTABILITY as a means by which you are developing people – not punishing them. 

Sure, you have to make sure you’ve communicated clear expectations and provided tools and training so that employees can perform to meet those expectations. Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to ensure there are consequences for not meeting those expectations.

Just like with children, if you continue to jump in to rescue and resolve all the issues, they will continue to LET YOU!

You don’t want to wake up and find your 30-year-old still living with you and operating like an adolescent because he’s never developed the life-skills to live in the real world as an adult.

The same thing is true for your employees at work. If you don’t take the time to communicate expectations, develop their capabilities and hold them accountable for their performance, you’ll be stuck right in the same situation.

Are you ready to wake from this nightmare? Try these simple suggestions:

  • When setting the performance expectations, communicate the consequences of not meeting those expectations. Explain what will happen and why it’s important to meet the expectations – outline the impact of their work on themselves and others.
  • Follow through on delivering on the outlined consequences.
  • Get comfortable with the discomfort this situation may cause. Your employee may not want to interact with you like they once did. But here’s the thing … those star performers on your team will appreciate you even more and step up their engagement when they see that the boss is effectively dealing with a performance issue.
  • Avoid providing an answer/solution without asking the employee for their ideas first. Take the “don’t come to me with a problem without having ideas about how you would solve it” approach. Bottom line: don’t allow that monkey on their back to jump over to your back!

Just think about it. The leaders who have high standards and hold people accountable for delivering quality work gain credibility and respect and other high performers are drawn to them.

It’s that type of leader that promotes learning and instills loyalty.

Count me in! What about you?

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter or connect via email at