What do you do when someone does not take responsibility?

The course was going really well. Great participation, good questions and lots of relating the course back to their own projects and their own places of work.

Then came the question: “so what do you do when someone does not take responsibility?”

The person mentioned that on several projects they had been involved in one person let down the team. They failed to deliver on time or the quality was poor impacting badly on the overall delivery of the project. There were several people who nodded to the question and who said that they also had suffered from the same issue. I got them to divide into groups and look at some of the ways of dealing with this. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • ensure your communications are very clear with each person e.g. stressing the date for delivery
  • check on the status of delivery – some of those on the course suggested they did leave the person to deliver without any checking part way through
  • check on ‘team selection’ – feedback suggested that person given to the team was done so without much thought on behalf of the department. Why not produce a description of what you require and check out whether a person meets those needs
  • control – one person suggested that the individual needed to be left to take control of the piece of work. Great idea suggested the group however there needs to be some parameters – all of the above and below
  • praise/recognition/feedback – there were a lot of comments from participants on the course on this area. They felt excluded from the 3 points (see 360 assessment for project staff ) and recognised that they do not do enough of this for their own team members
  • tackle it head on – the emphasis here is focussing on performance management. Ensuring that the performance of the individual was what was required. Having those difficult conversations was mentioned quite a few times however some people expressed a view that the person was outside their immediate span of control. I disagreed. An interesting discussion took place with the conclusion that if the performance after any discussion had not improved then step forward the sponsor – see next point
  • use the sponsor- this suggestion raised some eye brows. Effectively it’s realising that the person is not engaging, is not delivering and no matter what you have done there is a problem. The suggestion was that the project manager should raise this with the project sponsor and they should then raise it with the manager of the under performing staff member. Interesting suggestion – your views?

Do you take responsibility?

After the course I picked up a free copy of Evening Standard. I was surprised to see that despite having a great Olympic games the head coach of UK Athletics will stand down at the end of the year. The reason? He demanded eight medals for UK track and field, one of which should be gold. Despite winning 4 gold medals he said he had failed to meet his targets and promptly resigned.

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Now that’s taking responsibility!

*Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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