How to Hold Your Team Accountable Without Micromanaging

Keeping employees accountable is important to the success of your business, but what each person is accountable for needs to be understood and agreed upon by all parties involved. The key is to set clear expectations. Often times, an instruction or task is vaguely worded and leaves too much room for misinterpretation. For example, you may make the assumption that if you request a quarterly report, you will get what you are looking for. However, there are many details of that request that have not been communicated. Should the report be generated at the tail end of the quarter, or at the beginning of the next quarter once there has been a chance to evaluate the previous quarter? What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be measured in the report?

Improve employee performance and avoid micromanaging at the same time by perfecting your team’s accountability standards.


Set SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym that is commonly used to outline what needs to be considered when setting a new goal. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound will be more easily understood by your team, and help you accomplish better results. Following this method ensures that you properly address all of the aspects involved. Instead of simply tasking someone with compiling a “quarterly report”, ask them for a “report that examines the following 10 elements in Q1, due April 5th”.


Hold Employees Accountable for the ‘What’, Not the ‘How’

Micromanaging comes into play when a leader begins to tell someone how to get a job done, rather than simply what the job is. Employees are hired to do what they are already best at, not typically to be taught. Acknowledging this principle will help you more effectively manage your own time, and also allow your employees to be comfortable completing their work. Not everyone works the same way, and the end result is what is important. Give your employees the tools and information they need to generate the report you requested, but don’t tell them how to organize their spreadsheets, or the color pen they should use. Tell them only the “what”.


Set Check-In Points

Ensure that your team has what they need to complete their tasks or reach their goals by setting check-in points to discuss progress along the way. This sets a different tone because they are awarded a certain amount of trust. Start with the approach of using “we” instead of “you” to make the conversation comfortable and non-confrontational. Ask “Where are we with the April report?”, followed by “What do we need to get to the next milestone or to abide by the deadline?” These types of questions are viewed as supportive rather than intrusive. To get the job done, the person may need facts that are currently unavailable to them, to get in touch with someone from another department, or help from you in some other way. For the best results, ask open-ended questions.
Setting SMART goals, focusing on the “what” instead of the “how” when delegating tasks, and setting check-in points along the way will help you progress as a leader as well as keep your team accountable.