Fixing Accountability

“Have you abdicated your responsibility, as a Manager, to a watered down decision making protocol called consensus, in an effort to appease everyone and get everyone to play nice?” I repeated.

“That’s not a fair question,” Alicia protested.

I smiled. “You are right, it’s loaded with assumption and exaggeration, but it makes a point. Who, on this team should be making critical decisions about the Phoenix Project? Critical decisions based on the excellent engineering recommendations from Russ’ department, and based on the realities of production confronted by Corey and his team?”

“But I wanted to empower the team. I wanted to get buy-in,” Alicia protested, sitting at the head of the table, each team member listening intently.

“Alicia, this team is empowered to do what they do best. This team has bought in. There is a ton of commitment around this table. What they need is a decision.

There was silence.

Paula raised her hand. “You know, this meeting has always been called the Project team meeting. Maybe it should be called the Division Manager’s Meeting?”

Alicia had not been promoted to Division Manager because she was slow. I nodded to her. My work was done. It was Alicia’s turn.

“Tomorrow morning, we will convene the Division Manager’s Meeting. We have a very important decision to make about the Phoenix Project. The meeting will last for 60 minutes, during which time I will listen to presentations, arguments and discussion about this decision. At the end of the meeting, I will make a decision as to the direction. Based on my decision, it will be up to each of you to carry on, giving it your best.

“As conditions change, we will meet each week to discuss new critical issues. I expect each of you to handle the details. We will only talk about difficult decisions.

“Thank you all for your attention and participation in this meeting. Let’s get back to work.”

2 thoughts on “Fixing Accountability

  1. Roger Shaffer

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I’ve have found myself in Russ and Corey’s potion many times and responded exactly the same way. It is a real eye opener to see the root of conflict. Do you believe the bounus system increases the conflict? Or is it based entirely on the lack of desicions made by upper management? Is there a better way to set up a bonus system without pitting one team against another?

  2. Bozidar Spirovski

    Alicia forgot a key point – she IS accountable, regardless of all collective agreements and project coordination and consensus.
    HER manager will hold her accountable, as he should according to all management practices and ITIL – there can be many responsible persons, there can be only one accountable person.

    Excellent example!

    Spirovski Bozidar


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