How do you hold others accountable?

I was having an in-depth conversation with a colleague one time and I was asked “how do you hold others accountable?”.
My initial answer was “well, I don’t know, I just do”. I left the conversation and this question haunted me for some time.  Why couldn’t I answer it and how do I hold others accountable?  I think the simple answer is that I follow-up. Now, many
people will say they follow-up but do they really and how do you follow up? We all have a ton of things on our plates in our professional and personal lives it is easy to just let things slide. In other posts I have explored my methods for efficiency and being productive, holding other accountable is just part of it in all actuality.

I run a hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I have a family that I care for, and a social life that involves exercise and just time with friends. I am pretty efficient yes and successful in juggling all of it but I do not do it alone. In a future post I will explore my methods for organizing, tracking, and completion my overall methods for getting everything done and forgetting very little. I will touch on it briefly as it is part of how I hold those around me accountable. Accountability is a big word that is thrown around a lot and I hold myself to a very high standard. Those around me are superstars and don’t
even realize it, at home and at work.

I keep two journals, one for work and one for home, we will explore in that future post that I mentioned how I use them but they are a way for me to jot down commitments I have made, commitments others have made to me and just things I don’t want to
forget. Reminders and calendars are the method for the timing. When I ask someone to do something or someone says we “should” do something, in my mind it needs to and will happen. I note it and set a reminder. Here is my philosophy on the accountability
aspect of our relationship:

  1. I set expectations from the beginning.  This seems like a no-brainer but it certainly is not. In the beginning I say to everyone, I am efficient and I follow-up I am not like other people you know. This statement is always met with a chuckle and I say you will see. I let people know from the beginning if you say you will do something, you need to do and I will follow-up with you.  Many times people feel this needs to be a formal discussion but it does not, you can set expectations through actions as well as through general conversation.

    woman holding pen while using calculator
    Photo by on
  2. Hold open discussion without judgment.   When you reach a certain place in life, a parent of a teen or the leader of a team individuals somehow think they cannot come to you and just hash things out, throw things at a wall to see what will stick. I work to allow everyone to be comfortable with me to know they can still do this and there is no judgment, these situations are when the best ideas are  developed.

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    Photo by Pixabay on
  3. Ask questions I ask a lot of questions.  Some are for me to truly understand but some are for the individual to be able to think it all the way through and possibly poke holes in their own project, idea, presentation, or story.

    ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard
    Photo by Pixabay on
  4. Follow up.  I set reminders and ask for updates, regularly, as well as for a progress report, see how things are going, how can I support or help. This allows for the individual to know I have not forgotten and to stay on track. As the due date is coming up and we both know it is your turn to follow-up. I always tell everyone don’t make me chase you, doing what you say you will build trust.

    brown hourglass on brown wooden table
    Photo by Mike on

I think anyone would agree with me that there is a fine line between micro-managing and simply following up with people. In the beginning as you build a relationship you may feel you are being micro-managed and I have been there, no fun at all. My advice would be to prove you don’t need me to follow each step in holding you accountable that you yourself possess the mechanisms to hold yourself accountable. Complete things and respond before they are due, this will build the relationship and allow you to feel productive and allow those around you to know you will just get it done.

After all of this, I am not sure I answered the question of on how I hold people accountable but do hope I was able to share some insights on my thoughts on the subject as well as ideas on how to set the groundwork for a productive relationship of holding
each other accountable absent of judgement and emotion.


Interested in tips to get you started or sharpen your skills?  Reach out, I can help.


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