Accountability: How to respond when behaviors or results don’t measure up

Mike Fassler
Mike Fassler

Accountability in a family business requires personal commitment to agreed upon behaviors and results. When you commit, you automatically make yourself vulnerable because your behaviors and/or results might not measure up. That’s why it takes courage to make commitments – you have to take some risk. How you respond when there is a gap between your commitment and what actually happens determines how others are likely to respond to the shortfall and whether or not you will have a positive influence on accountability in your family business.

So, let’s say you’ve made a commitment and you’ve fallen short. How should you respond?  By voluntarily acknowledging the shortfall, you create a safe environment within which to have what are usually difficult conversations. You are not leaving another family member or non-family executive to wonder whether you are aware of the shortfall, and how to best start a conversation with you. They don’t have to — your initiative has started the conversation and your display of vulnerability created the safe environment.

Voluntary acknowledgement takes pressure off relationships. Your recognition puts others at ease and better enables them to provide input as to changes or actions to help mitigate the impact of the shortfall. Provided your family business stakeholders have shared intentions, and are pulling together in a shared direction, voluntary acknowledgement will more likely lead to support, rather than challenge.

During this conversation that you have brought to light, ask for input and ideas. Was the commitment too large? Is there additional training or skill building you need to improve upon next time? Is there someone that might shadow you on your next attempt to provide more input along the way? Asking for feedback frees others to bring resources to bear, and this will support you in future commitments.

Voluntary acknowledgement is a powerful influence on keeping accountability alive and well in your family business and a way of mounting support during difficult periods.

Consider what’s standing in the way of you trying this out.


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