Talking to Team Members Who Didn’t Do What They Were Supposed to Do

As you have a conversation with a team member about a breakdown in a plan, here are some guidelines to increase your chances of having a good outcome:

  • Begin by reaffirming with the other person that the goal is to figure out what happened and what to do moving forward, not to place blame.
  • Rather than going into the meeting angry or annoyed, go in with curiosity. Your mindset should be, “What happened here? What information am I missing that would help me understand this person’s behavior?” *
  • Be open to the possibility that you can learn something about the situation that you didn’t know. Have the mindset: How might this behavior make sense?
  • Identify the pressures each of you is experiencing in the situation.
  • Look at the problem from a systems perspective. What within the system of your organization is affecting the results you’re getting? We often undervalue how the large forces at work in an organization impact us and the people we work with.
  • Listen hard to the other person’s perspective. Ask questions to clarify what they are telling you.
  • Determine new ways to address the problem.
  • Identify any stated or unstated expectations. If agreements were not understood the same way by both of you, this is a good time to clarify and re-establish shared agreements.

Remembering the following summary has helped me navigate many tricky conversations:

Focus on:

  • Solving the problem
  • Building the relationship
  • Getting results

Do NOT focus on:

  • Proving blame
  • Being right

What can you do now to create a culture of accountability?

Building a Team That Has ACCOUNTABILITY

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*Crucial Confrontations – Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler

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