Young leaders: How to hold people accountable

Guest editorial
Brian Guillerault
Governor at Large
Generation Next
Hews Co. LLC

This article was published in the July 2019 edition of NTEA News.

Ah, accountability. It’s the thing we all love to talk about, but the process of actually holding people accountable is something many leaders struggle with — especially new leaders. I’ve had my share of challenges with this, and I’m sure some of you have as well. Like anything, it takes practice to develop these skills. To help you become a better leader, this article outlines a few practical approaches to holding people accountable.

Set clear expectations
Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them in order to do their job effectively and meet performance standards. Clarity is key, and it’s our duty as leaders to communicate expectations clearly and directly. On the other side, team members need to know consequences of not meeting expectations. People are responsible for doing their jobs, and we as leaders need to hold them accountable when standards are not met. To make things official, expectations and consequences need to be documented. This will help remove gray areas.

Provide direct and honest feedback
If you have an issue with one of your employees, address it right away. If it’s a sensitive matter, handle it in private. If an individual does something positive, praise or reward them in public so they can be recognized for the accomplishment. This will build confidence and help reinforce the right behaviors. A great way to provide regular feedback is to conduct regular one-on-ones with your people. These meetings have a dedicated time and frequency (weekly, monthly or quarterly) and allow you to review performance, address areas to improve, highlight accomplishments, discuss goals and focus on the next set of objectives. Lastly, feedback is a two-way street. Always ask for specific comments about your management style or how you can better support them.

Be consistent
The final piece is to maintain consistency in areas that promote and uphold accountability. We need to be consistent with our performance standards, consequences and how we communicate with our employees. You run the risk of diminishing your credibility as a leader if you treat people differently, play favorites or are unclear about expectations. We can’t afford to lower standards for those who underperform. Additionally, we can’t afford to not carry out consequences when necessary; the wrong behaviors will continue to happen until there is a consequence. Finally, how you communicate is key to getting buy-in and consistent performance. Communication and feedback should be given in a tactful and respectful way.

It’s our job as leaders to push people to work hard, get results and develop. Accountability isn’t about punishment or pointing out flaws — it’s about improving performance and getting results. Use the tips in this article as a resource to hold your team accountable the right way and become a better leader.

Generation Next gives new industry professionals support in developing skills and building peer relationships in the work truck industry. Involvement is free to employees of NTEA member companies with less than 10 years of industry service. Learn more at

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