Team Accountability -- The Dysfunction
"In the context of teamwork, [accountability] refers specifically to the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team."1
No one likes to be called out for not doing his job. Nor do people like to be the ones that have to point out team members are falling short of expectations. A common excuse we tell ourselves is that we don't want to embarrass a coworker or family member by holding that person accountable. More truthful is that we don't want to be uncomfortable ourselves, and holding a team member accountable for poor performance is not pleasant.
This is one team characteristic where personal relationships naturally complicate the issue. "In fact, team members who are particularly close to one another sometimes hesitate to hold one another accountable precisely because they fear jeopardizing a valuable personal relationship."1
Ironically, when we fail to hold a team member accountable, the message we are sending is that we don't respect that person enough to confront him. While we typically avoid the confrontation because we don't want to be uncomfortable, the only reason we should experience discomfort is if the team member isn't able to handle the criticism. Holding our team members accountable is a vote of confidence that we believe in them, and we think they are capable of meeting the high expectations.
Lencioni points out that avoiding accountability "causes the relationships to deteriorate as team members begin to resent one another for not living up to expectations and for allowing the standards of the group to erode."1
Do your team members hold each other accountable or can you feel resentment building as expectations fail to be met?
1 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni