Today’s blogger is John Barrett, Principal and co-founder of Humanergy.

Sue is preparing for her monthly meeting with Sam, one of her direct reports. She has some concerns about his attention to detail and the status of a couple of his projects. A critical question Sue is asking herself is, “How should I handle this? Should this be a coaching conversation, focused on accountability or some combination of both?”

Accountability discussions and coaching are not the same. Nor should they be mixed together. To do so dilutes and potentially confuses the critical messages that the employee needs to hear.

Accountability compares performance against expectations, and there are consequences to either sub-par or exceptional performance. Direct reports must know what is expected of them and what will predictably happen based on their efforts and results.

Coaching is another animal altogether. It’s the partnership with a direct report to support and challenge the development of new thinking and behaviors. Critical coaching messages pertain to the employee’s goals, results they want/need and the critical competencies they are working to develop. The boss’s job when coaching is to ask great questions, provide insight only when needed and help the employee remove any barriers to change and growth.

Having both accountability and coaching conversations are critical for high performance. In fact, doing both will magnify the impact of each type of discussion. Just avoid the confusion and lack of clarity that ensue when doing them at the same time.

Have a great idea for promoting accountability and development of new capabilities? Comment below or message us.


Photo by Jorik Blom on Unsplash