Every leader knows that accountability is important and feels the pain of when an employee does not take accountability, but leaders all too often avoid having conversations regarding accountability – until it is too late.

Conversations regarding accountability usually only occur when accountability has not happened and thus the tone is often punitive.

Jonathan Raymond, author, executive coach and leadership speaker created The Accountability Dial consisting of five steps:The Accountability Dial

This is a framework of skills managers can foster and develop to engage with their direct reports in a way that focuses on employees’ counterproductive behaviours and engages with their team member in a non-punitive or authoritarian tone – driven from the manager’s personal desire to help their team members grow. This tool ultimately assists the employee in taking accountability for their own behaviours.

  • The Mention: Naming the behaviour – This speaks to the skill of recognising a behaviour that may not yet be problematic but is likely to become a problem in future. By addressing a potential issue in an informal manner before a crisis occurs creates mutual respect by acknowledging that they are overwhelmed instead of pretending you do not see it. It might sound like:
    1. “I noticed a few typos in that newsletter that’s about to go out. Did you see those?”
    1. “I saw a flurry of emails come in overnight. Anything worth talking about?”
    1. “You seem a bit overwhelmed this week. Something going on?”
    2. “You seemed frustrated in the meeting this morning, anything you want to talk about?”
  • The Invitation: Framing the pattern – The Invitation is the step where a manager goes when the employee has not changed behaviours stated in The Mention. It is simply taking the behaviour discussed in The Mention and taking it one step further. It often assists the employee to think about the situation more proactively. It might sound like:
    • “Remember that comment I made about typos in the newsletter the other day? I saw a few in the memo you sent me yesterday. I’m a bit concerned that it may be happening more often. Are you moving too fast on things?”
    • “You didn’t come back to me about emails. Did that all get resolved? I was wondering about where it went after we talked.”
    • Are you still feeling overwhelmed? You seem a little stressed still, but maybe that’s just me. Has it gotten better? Has it gotten worse?”
  • The Conversation: Getting to self-interest – This is the opportunity to go deeper by asking questions that guide employees to understand the impact of their behaviour. The four questions to focus on are:
    • How is this pattern of behaviour making more work or causing unnecessary frustration for their team members?
    • How is this behaviour making more work or causing unnecessary frustration for themselves, and their manager?
    • How is this behaviour making more work or causing unnecessary frustration for their customers or stakeholders?  (or vendors, partners, or other stakeholders)?
    • How is this behaviour holding them back from becoming more of the person they want to be?

The final two steps cover the ground of consequences and potential termination. If the first three steps are properly followed, the need for the final two should decrease.

This framework is a guide for managers who are always asking: “How do I get my people to be more accountable for results?”

The highest form of leadership is to develop the strength to not give people the answers. Rather, your job is to create a space where they can discover the answers for themselves.


Bregman, P (2016). The right way to hold people accountable. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-right-way-to-hold-people-accountable
Overfield, D., & Kaiser, R. (2012). One out of every two managers is terrible at accountability. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/11/one-out-of-every-two-managers-is-terrible-at-accountability
Raymond, J. (2016). Do you understand what accountability really means? Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/10/do-you-understand-what-accountability-really-means
Raymond, J. (2016). Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting For. Ideapress Publishing: Illinois, USA.


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