Ladder of Accountability

Years ago, the company I work for made anyone with management responsibility go through a class about Accountability and Situational Management/Leadership.  Situational management is when you adapt your management/leadership style to better fit the situation at hand.  In order to be good at it, you must look at the situation, look at who is involved, do an assessment of the skillset of those involved, and manage the situation accordingly.

And example:
We have a request from the business to modify one of our systems to better meet their needs.  We have high level requirements from the business. 

If I have a junior guy (low experience, low skill), I am going to sit this guy down, review the requirements, draw up a plan of attack down to the tiniest detail, ask if he understands what he is to do, and send him on his way.  In other words, I will micromanage them.

If I have a woman on the team that has high experience and high skill/compentency, I will likely just hand over the requirements because she has proven to me that I can simply delegate to her – and give her a due date. 

It’s a pretty effective management style because you are always making sure you are dealing with the situation and people appropriately.  I mean, we’ve all had managers that want to hand it off, but not without making sure you understand every minor part.  If you are highly competent, you roll your eyes and get annoyed.  Basically this teaches you not to be “that” manager.

I moved recently and unearthed the handouts from the class and came across a diagram that helped me understand my current frustration with the business people I support.  I am handling the situation based on situational management, but I have been forgetting one key piece of information – where are they at on the “Ladder of Accountability”. 

It’s a great little diagram where it had a line.  If you are below the line, you are in the victim stage.  The lowest rung is denial.  Next up from denial is “I can’t”.  Next up is blame.  And above that is a hope that it will just resolve itself.

Above the line is the Accountable behaviors.  It means you see it, you own it, you solve it,  and you do it.  Pretty straight forward really.

My users have been on the blame rung lately.  While they are high skill, high compentent, high experience, they can’t seem to chew their own food without involving me or wanting me to do it for them.  And, it has been driving me crazy because it doesn’t seem like anything I try in my attempts to make them understand works. 

I was happy I found this because I have now hung it for all to see.  I’ve used this a couple times already with great success.  And, I love the fact that it calls the blame part being in the Victim stage.  It’s accurate, but how many big macho guys like being told they are being a victim. 🙂

What do you think?

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