• Wendy Bruce, ACC, CPCC

Accountability and behavior change

Week 1 - Are you holding the right person accountable?

Week 2 - Holding the right person accountable

Week 3 - Accountability and the repeat offender

Week 4 - Holding someone accountable for the last time - professional development plans

Week 4

Joe: So what now? Am I fired? On a PIP?

Manager: I would like to build on your technical skills and institutional knowledge. You are a valuable member of staff and I’d hate to have to replace you. However, you are titled and compensated at a Manager level and performing at a Lead level. I really need to see you develop more strategic planning and critical thinking skills. I’d like for you to think about how I can support you in developing those skills and what action you are going to take to get there.

Joe: I don’t know where to begin!

Manager: Start by talking with our controller about the financial planning needs, hire a consultant to come in and show you how to write a planned obsolescence program. I’ll approve up to $1,000 for that. Start there and perhaps other ideas will come to you.

Let’s meet in 2 weeks and review what you’ve learned and if you need other ideas we can talk about them at that time. Then we can map out a timeline for putting this new knowledge into place. Joe, I really want to see you succeed here, but if, for any reason, you don’t develop better judgement and greater accountability, then I will need to put a better qualified manager in place. I’d really like it if you became that qualified manager. This is a great opportunity for professional development as you grow in your career.

Joe: How long do I have?

Manager: When we meet in 2 weeks we can put a timeline together. I don’t expect an overnight change, but I do need to see some immediate and sustained improvement in these areas. Let’s say if we can go 6 months without any more disappointments we’ll be back on firm ground. During that 6 months, use me as a resource, I’m always pleased to help someone who wants to grow.


No drama, no emotion, just clear communication from a supportive manager not a punitive manager. Of course there are many variables. In my experience, a repeat offender treated this way has a fairly even chance of quitting as they do stepping up to the plate. If there is no effort made toward a professional development plan made by Joe in 2 weeks, then the choices are to transfer him to a lead position with appropriate adjustments in comp and title and put someone else in the manager role; take on the responsibility for managing Joe more closely than you’d prefer; or letting him go.

Comments? Questions?

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