“How can we hold a remote workforce accountable?” is a phrase I have heard over and over during the pandemic.

The solutions I have heard have horrified me, including:

  • Keystroke counters
  • Software that takes a screenshot every minute (or five minutes)
  • Endless and ongoing Zoom calls
  • Additional daily reports documenting what had been accomplished during that day
  • Random check-in video calls to make sure the person is at their computer

And the list goes on…

Every single one of these solutions proves a lack of trust between management and employees.

At this point, why don’t we just install nanny cams?

Hopefully, each employee was hired because they were trusted to do a job. You deemed them qualified, resilient, creative, problem-solvers who would complete tasks and help the company achieve goals.

So, what happened when we were forced to send our teams home and lost the ability to look over their shoulders? Did we suddenly lose trust in our people to do the work they were expected to do merely because they were out of sight?

What changed?

My argument is nothing.

The fact is we have never set our teams up for success because we have not clearly defined expectations that genuinely lead to proper accountability.

However, here is the part most of my clients hate to hear: As leaders, we need to understand and live by the expectations our teams have of us, and we need to be held just as accountable when we do not live up to our end of the bargain.

Expectations, and the accountability that comes with them, are personal contracts that go both ways. Accountability needs to be worked out between the leader and each employee individually, and each set of expectations will be slightly different.

Yes, overall objectives need to be met, but how each person works to achieve those objectives is where details matter.

The best way to explain this is within this interview with Tom Ziglar. At the 14:00 mark of the interview, Tom talks about the Leader as a Coach model.

To summarize, we must enable our team members to communicate their personal goals to us. As leaders, we can codify them and make them part of the mutually agreed-upon expectations. When we do this, developing accountability is much easier. Understood and agreed-upon expectations enable the leader to keep the team member on task, and the team member to know what to focus on and when, how, and why they can reach out for help, as needed.

If everyone does not understand expectations and why they matter, they will never figure out how to implement them successfully, and no one will ever be held accountable.

There is a contract between leaders and those they lead. It is mutually beneficial and allows everyone to succeed.

Is it more work? Absolutely.

However, is it worth it to you as a leader to enable your team to succeed, create mutual trust, and be perceived as valuable by those you are accountable to? Only you can decide that.

Wishing you success.

Connect with Ben HERE to develop and tell your story within your organization and create a team environment where together, you succeed, grow, and become more profitable.


Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash