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Remote accountability with Jonathan Raymond

Luke Szyrmer April 27, 2021 301


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Today’s guest is really special guest, whose body of work I found really helpful as a practitioner in the context of delegation and remote accountability. Usually the topic is full of platitudes and hot air when you read stuff online, but Jonathan has thought very deeply on the topic and come up with frameworks that empower you to go and solve real-world issues you face, as you’ll hear on these episodes.

In this episode you will discover:

  • how to hold people accountable in a respectful way, without feeling like you’ve been taken for a ride
  • what accountability really is, and what it means for you as a leader
  • how lockdown has changed how leaders hold their remote teams accountable

About Jonathan Raymond

remote accountability with jonathan raymond

Jonathan Raymond is the CEO of Refound, a leadership training company that helps organizations unlock high-performance through transparent conversations about growth and accountability. Jonathan spent 20 years building careers in business development and personal growth before realizing he could have the best of both worlds by starting his own company. Now, he uses those skills to advise CEOs and organizational leaders on how to create a people-first culture that drives results. His goal is to provide Refound’s clients with a partner they can trust and a program that gives managers an experience of how they can make work a better place, one conversation at a time. Jonathan is an experienced CEO, Inc. Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker (Inc. 2018) and the author of Good Authority, How to Become the Leader Your Team is Waiting For. He lives in Encinitas, California. He is madly in love with his wife, tries not to spoil his daughters, and will never give up on the New York Knicks.

Transcript

Luke: Jonathan, Raymond, welcome to the podcast.

Thanks. And

so can you say a few words about how you got into the topic of accountability and delegation?

Jonathan Raymond: Fairly simply realizing that I was a lousy CEO when it came to delegation and remote accountability and feedback and coaching, and I was pretty good at the vision and strategy and okay, where do we want to be?

And what does it look like and thinking about products and things like that. And I thought I was okay at the delegation and feedback and remote accountability and I wasn’t. And so I realized back in this was probably 2013, 2014, seven, eight years ago that I needed to change something. Something substantial about my approach to leading and managing teams.

I also saw my managers who were mostly around my age, a little bit younger at the time, like mostly in their thirties. They were really struggling and people, this was, pre way, pre pandemic, pre all the crazy things that are happening in our world right now. And people were really struggling with how creating a space for their teams to perform at a high level based on the company goals or the team goals.

And. Be really human and give people the development that they were looking for, the autonomy they were looking for. That’s where I started. We’ll get into where I ended up, I just became really passionate about. This topic of conversations and where every organization that I was a part of, whether it was part of organizations that I was in a leadership role in, or that I was consulting or coaching to that everybody seemed to be struggling with this.

And I was like, okay there’s gotta be a better way. So that’s where I started.

Challenges with remote accountability

Yeah. That’s how I discovered the book too. I was looking for , anything around this because it just felt like I wasn’t doing very well. With this particular thing so in terms of the the process of getting into it, what were the first. Challenges. That you overcame as you started getting into this area?

Luke: The first was really a mindset that I had talked about a lot in good authority, which was like, like most people, I grew up in a education system, family system, cultural system that rewarded and incentivized me based on my individual contributions.

So I became really good at my individual contributions. Knocking off the things in my inbox and, moving things forward that were, that seemed important to me. And I started to shift that perspective and I started to see that was not my highest value anymore as a team leader, while it was my highest value as an individual contributor, that, that mindset of solving problems and fixing things had become a liability.

And all of a sudden I had a team of people, whether it was eight people, 20 people, a hundred people surrounding me in some sort of way. The more that I used that muscle that I re that I really knew the worst things got. So the more I was the one who was the fixer of problems and the solver of things, the less the team performed.

And the less that I did that, the more that I said I don’t know. I’ve got an idea for how to do that, but how would you do that? Or, Hey, I’ve got some ideas for how we might do this. And of course I’ve got some ideas, but I don’t want to put my ideas out there first because the tendency will be to go with my ideas and they may not be the best ones.

If we want to go deep, pretty soon in our conversation here, it’s really about identity. It’s really about who do I think I am. And what, and how do I think I add value in the world? And as an individual contributor, we think rightly that we add value through our individual contribution and when we’re called into a position of leadership, at least in my view.

And I think this is a widely shared view these days more so is that we have to change that self value. We have to say, Hey, wait a second. My self value is about empowering others. It’s about lifting up others and creating the conditions for other people to go to places that they’ve yet to go. I’m good at taking myself to places that I, you have to go, but my job is to get other people to go to places where they you’ve got to go.

And I had a CEO of a fortune 500 company recently say to me, something that you never would have said to me a year ago, where he said. Jonathan, what I realized is that it’s my job to create the emotional conditions for high performance. And I was like, wow, okay. My job is done here. That’s the kind of stuff you don’t hear.

It takes a while. So that’s the mindset shift from individual contributor to team leader. 80% of it is mindset. There’s tactics. We’ll get into the accountability dial and we’ll talk about delegation there’s but it’s about a mindset shift and that’s the hardest part.

What is accountability, really?

In terms of accountability. Let’s start there. What is it really when it’s working well?

Jonathan Raymond: Here’s what it’s not, or it’s not only a lot of people say accountability is like doing what I said I was going to do. Okay. Fine. That’s fine. But that’s the table stakes, right? And most people don’t even do that. And especially in big companies, they suffer from a lot of people, not doing the things that they were going to do.

But to me, accountability is about the way we go about things, it’s not just about the tasks in your inbox, but it’s the way you go about it. Did you communicate in an effective way? Did you collaborate across the team? Did you give people fair warning around changes? Did you acknowledge when you messed something up and you didn’t just say oops, You said, oops, that was on me.

And because it was on me, here’s how I’m going to fix it to make it easier for you. Nobody does that in our world. That’s accountability. Accountability is I screwed up. I made things harder for you. I made your project go slower. I messed something up for you saying I’m sorry is worthless. It’s better than nothing.

But accountability is going to saying Hey, of course say, Hey, sorry about that. And I’m going to take it upon me because I’m the one who took the action that resulted in harm in some way, I’m going to take the next action, which is I’m going to fix it. I’m going to undo. I’m going to, I’m using the word damage, even though it’s a bit extreme, but I’m going to proactively undo the damage or the harm that I did.

That’s accountability. That’s where that’s the top of the mountain, what we’re going for and what we coach leaders and executives on. And the more and the higher you are up in the org chart, the more meaningful it is when you do accountability like that. And the more obvious it is when you don’t and the more harmful it is when you don’t, because everybody goes this culture talks about accountability.

We talk about ownership. We talk about living our values, but they don’t do it. The work that I do is oftentimes with, senior leaders, but, or, but we’re working organizationally and that’s so to me, accountability is about how we show up in our roles.

How to avoid beating people over the head with accountability

Luke: How do you move from accountability being this code word for beating people over the head with a bat, the type of accountability that you described?

Jonathan Raymond: Organizationally, what we do is we ask a lot of questions. We’re a pain in the ass that way. So when we’d go into an organization, we’re typically not working with one person we’re working with a team or a division, oftentimes it’s a whole company. And we ask a lot of questions that people like, Hey, so if I use the word accountability, what does that mean to you?

What does that mean in this organization? And people have a wide variety of answers. And then we asked them, we said what should it mean. It should mean X, Y, and Z. It should mean if somebody is going to delay a project that they should come across the hall real or virtual. We let the organization define what accountability should be.

And then oftentimes we’ll ask questions like, okay. So let’s assume the level of accountability in the organization like, Oh, let me say it this way. I had a CEO come to me and say accountability is one of our core values. So that’s great. That’s wonderful. What happens if somebody isn’t accountable and he said, what do you mean? And I said what are the consequences? If you said accountability is a core value, what are the consequences? If people don’t behave in an accountable way? I guess there really aren’t any. Okay you don’t have accountability as a core value. If there are no consequences and it doesn’t mean firing people, although sometimes that happens, like if there are no consequences to accountability, then you don’t have accountability.

So we ask a lot of questions around what does accountability mean? And different people have different assumptions. And, it’s if we use the word excellence, if we asked 10 people, they’re gonna have 10 different definitions. So we ask a lot of people in the organization. What does it mean?

What should it mean? Now, what would it look like if accountability was operating at a really high level in this organization? Okay. We would be doing this, and this. Okay. Does everybody agree that those are good things? Yeah, that would be awesome. Okay. So now we move it out of the realm of of a negative and something. People don’t want to, something that people do want because it’s attached to an outcome that they care about.

Remote accountability and delegation

Luke: Let’s move on to delegation, because I think that’s actually the thing that probably helped me the most. Why do people struggle with delegation so much?

Jonathan Raymond: Especially in larger companies and where there’s know layers of leaders and managers we’re afraid of the poor work coming back on us. Or it’s not happening fast. Like we oftentimes have a manager or a leader who’s in some form or another, under a lot of pressure breathing down our neck about a results.

We talked about the conditions for a second, though. A few minutes ago, the conditions are ripe for me to not delegate or to not delegate fully. I’ll give the easy stuff. I’ll give the stuff that has like a list of one to 10. Go do these things, but it’s, but at the conditions are ripe for me to hold back.

The parts that are, that involve a little more creativity that involve more context that involve a bit more risk. The inertia is in favor of me holding back. Versus letting go. So you have to proactively work against that. That’s the reason why it’s so hard is because we believe even if it kills us, if you look at the inner world of most managers and leaders, you’ll see a lot of burnout and a lot of overwhelm, we believe that the only way that we’re going to survive.

And get promoted is by doing it ourselves, getting it done, making sure like we’re a constant, this constant state of making sure polishing, finishing all of that kind of stuff, because we were afraid. And as a parallel to that, we don’t know how to do it any other way. So what would be the alternative? I don’t do that.

If I let go. I know it’s going to happen. It’s going to be a disaster. This person’s going to be sloppy. This person’s going to be late. This person’s going to be blah, blah, blah. This person’s going to do an okay job, but I’m going to have to redo it. Anyway, we have this whole sort of in the legal world, we’d say they say the parade of horribles, right? This parade of horribles that goes through our mind of all the things that are going to happen if we genuinely truly delegate. So we don’t do it because we don’t have an alternative for how would I do that in a way that doesn’t necessarily guarantee me that doesn’t happen, but reduces the risk. Substantially. And without that, I’m not going to delegate.

And that’s what the accountability dial in. A lot of the other tools in the book are for how do we mitigate the risks? How do we create moments where we can delegate and give the people feedback in real time of what happens when we do, what did they get, right?

What did they get wrong? How do they improve so that we can improve our own abilities to delegate and the flexibility in our system.

Delegating under uncertainty with remote accountability

Luke: So the difficult thing to delegate is the thing that’s big and hairy and uncertain and unknown, which especially nowadays there’s a lot of that. Yes.

There’s a lot of that.

How do you start? Do you need to break it down into specific tasks? Do you need people to do it for you suggest how they would do it?

Jonathan Raymond: I’ll give you one example. One example. A lot of managers would benefit from thinking a little bit more like a mentor apprentice type of relationship.

I think people do this in engineering to some degree. If I want someone on my team to be able to do something well, me telling them to do it well, isn’t going to work most of the time, me explaining to them what looks like it might have a little bit of effect, but nothing is going to have the same effect as me showing them how I do it. Step-by-step. What are the micro moments? What are the questions that I’m asking of myself as I’m going through a piece of work? Because they don’t know what those questions are.

So as a leader, who’s who grows through the ranks, who gets promoted, what people don’t understand is the reason why you’re promoted.

Nobody ever talks about this. The reason why you’re promoted is because you’ve demonstrated to somebody that you understand, context, it’s that simple. You understand the context of the work. And so they’re willing to give you more of it because you understand the little bit of the why and you show up to it the right way.

But then we bring it up. People will keep a team of people around us and we don’t delegate. We delegate the work, but we forget to delegate the context. And so the way to delegate the context is to go.

So let’s use sales for example. So if I, rather than me telling a sales person a hundred times how to do a good sales call, I want to go through one minute. Of a sales call that I did and stop the tape a hundred times and say, okay, right there. Why do you think I asked that question? Oh shit. I don’t know. And then I want to get them thinking about why do I do the things that I do relative to this really important task they’re going to learn way faster and what managers think that is.

So they say, Oh, I don’t have time to do that. And it’s nuts because you spent so much time now managing around the absence of that. So if you would just say, Hey, look, I’m going to spend five minutes a day this week in a spirit of learning where I’m going to sit down with one person on my team on Monday, and for five minutes, I’m going to really teach them how to do something that I know how to do that.

I suspect they don’t know how to do, or they don’t know how to do it the way I know how to do it. That’s how you start to break it down there. There are other things we could talk about as well. But what I’ve seen over and over again,

I’ll give you another related example where a manager and she’s a very senior leader, but in a very large company and she’s struggling with delegation. And she said I keep going to these meetings. I keep going to these regional meetings because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The why I’m afraid something bad will happen, but whatever. And I said, okay, great. So I said, Catherine, what are the questions that you ask yourself? As you’re sitting in on those meetings and she thought, I don’t know, I just do. I just do it. Okay. I bet if you take, let’s take five minutes right now and I want you to write down. What are the five most important questions that you’re asking yourself, as you’re listening to this other team share this information. She did it in 30 seconds. once I asked her the question, she knew exactly what the things were and I said, okay, great. Now write that in an email and send that to your direct reports and say, Hey, here are the questions that I ask myself. When I go to these meetings, these are the questions that I want you to ask with whatever other questions you think are important. I’m not going to those meetings anymore. And that’s what she did.

And she hasn’t been, since it’s been six months, she doesn’t go to those meetings anymore because she’d got it out of her head, she got the context out of her head onto a piece of paper, into ball, an email, and sent it to the people, explained why those things were important. And then let them be smart.

Let them go too. And then they made it better. Because there’s a bunch of questions she wasn’t thinking of. Cause she’s operating at a different level. Hope that’s helpful.

Why context matters when holding remote teams accountable

Luke: Let’s go into context a little more because this is something that I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s this thing that obviously is there but what is it exactly? And then an organization, for example.

Jonathan Raymond: Think about it this way. One of the things that leaders often struggle with myself included all leaders struggle with this in different ways is that we say a thing. And we don’t understand why our team, even though we said the thing, and maybe we even said the thing three times, we don’t understand why our team doesn’t understand the thing that we said in the way that we set it. We don’t understand it. It’s reasonable. Why we don’t understand it. And the reason why is they lack context. So what does that mean? They weren’t in. The 50 meetings prior to that moment where people hashed out all the nuances and debated the ideas . They didn’t marinate with that content. They didn’t work on them in all of these passive ways, over a period of time. Leading up to that moment when we said the thing, we’ve all of this context for what’s behind it and why it matters and how it’s different than this other thing that we could have said, but we didn’t say how, why it’s white has to happen on this timescale. And, but we spent a bunch of time arriving at that statement and then we make that statement and we think someone else, another human being is going to understand it in the way we understand it. It’s crazy.

So it doesn’t work. So that’s one form of all of the nuance, all the debate, all the critical thinking or lack of critical thinking, all the pressure, all the stress, all the emotion.

Maybe there was a heated conversation about why that was so important. And then somebody shows up on a team, a couple layers in the organization and says, Hey everybody, we’re doing this now. And everybody’s what are you talking about? I thought, why is that important? Like yesterday you said this was important and all the context got lost in that conversation, right? All the, why all the, why does it matter? Who does it matter to? Why does it matter more than this other thing? All of that stuff gets lost and then we wonder why doesn’t the team perform at a really high level?

How to delegate with context to new employees

Luke: In the context of people, especially junior people who are very good, who joined and then I want them to be more involved for example. And then if you give them too much context there. Practically doing my job. Which obviously isn’t good for them or good for me either in terms of it’s a waste of their time. And yeah. On the other hand, I want them to have enough context so that they bring their full selves to the work. So it isn’t this kind of thing where I just go and tell them what to do and give them to do this. How do you give enough context without overwhelming people to, to basically go and do their job?

Jonathan Raymond: for me, it’s a line item that should be in your one-on-ones that’s sometimes spoken about, and sometimes is it depending upon the week or the month? click on that a little bit? Exactly. As you said too much context, not helpful. It can be debilitating, not useful to little context. So it should be a conversation. It should be, from the moment somebody is like, starting with me, so I have a new guy on my team, but I’m going through this right now. And we’re trying to figure out that balance of like how much context is enough, how much is debilitating, where he’s swimming and how much of it is not enough.

And so we talk about that, right? So rather than me. Trying to figure out exactly how much context he needs. It’s a regular conversation or a one-on-one. It was like, Hey, do you feel like you have enough context for this? Some things he surprised me. He was like, Oh yeah, I totally get it. I talked with Sarah and blah, blah, blah. I totally get it. And other things he’s I don’t really know. Can you say a little bit more? And so that’s a feature. A line item in our one-on-ones is context maintenance, so to speak where we’re in conversation about that. And I’m going to give him feedback, which you with accountability dial, which maybe we’ll talk about in a couple of minutes, I’m going to get some feedback.

When I see him operating either without enough context or being debilitated by too much context. And that’s the purpose of the accountability dial. And the feedback methodology is to be able to say, this thing right now. I feel like we’re spinning our wheels on the strategy piece of it.

And I want us to live in a tighter box there. So can you think of about that and how would we move that forward? If we just said Hey, we’re going to, we’re going to lock in. This is what we know. We know that it’s imperfect, but this is what we know. How do we move it forward over the next. 30 days, 60 days.

So I’m going to give my feedback at that level as well, so that he can understand, from my perspective, is he operating at the right level of context? Some people use like the right altitude. Is he doing the work with the right level of altitude? So I think it’s an ongoing conversation.

And people will tell you, right? They will, if you do a survey and they say I don’t like, if you do a survey and whatever tool you use and people say, I don’t understand my job. I don’t understand what I do here. It’s the most frustrating thing for like HR leaders and CEOs. How do people not understand?

Like we tell them we, what we do, all these things right. Because they’re lacking context, right? And so they need managers to help them understand why their role matters. And what’s important about it. And also to remove things that are not important. That’s the fatal flaw of most managers and leaders. They don’t declutter the inboxes of their teams in an effective way. And so people are like you never took those other things away. So I guess I have 27 priorities. Yeah. I’ll try to work on all of them, yeah. Yeah.

What is the accountability dial?

Luke: So accountability, dials. What is it?

Jonathan Raymond: I realized painfully not only as a CEO, but as a manager, when I was giving feedback that I thought was reasonable and was reasonably toned and was reasonably challenging. I thought that the way that I was doing that was okay. And I realized this is, back in that same period, seven, eight years ago, that what I thought was reasonable and properly toned and reasonably challenging was way too heavy handed was way too intense, was bringing way too much authority for people to be able to hear.

And so as a result, what I was getting was defensiveness, victimhood, people blaming other people blaming other systems, people shutting down and I didn’t understand. I cried. I was like how is this happening? Like, all I said was blank. And what I didn’t realize was that the binary nature of my position in the organization and I can be an intense guy, but it wasn’t just that the combination of my position and my own personal intensity was causing people to shut down.

So I decided to create a better way for myself. Refounded and exist. The book didn’t exist. I was just working as a leader in the team, senior manager, but it was working in it on a bigger team. And I started to slow down and I said, okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna bite-size this.

Instead of giving my feedback, I’m gonna break it down into five components and see what that does. And what ended up being the accountability dollars. These five stages mentioned invitation conversation, boundaries, and limit, which we talk about extensively. And we’ll share some links for some people to check out some things about this is I said, okay, I’m just going to start with a mention and see what happens.

I’m just going to say to the effect of, Hey, I noticed in this morning, stand-up I noticed this, I don’t know what to make of it, but I noticed it. And then I’m just gonna shut up. And I wasn’t going to make a theory or maybe I had a theory, but it wasn’t going to out my theory or a conclusion or make a judgment or dictate an action.

I wasn’t gonna do any of those things. And what I found was by just starting with dimension, I started to spark self-reflection. I started to spark curiosity in people. I started to spark people’s taking on the thing that I saw as their own. And taking it from me, which is what I wanted because I saw something, I didn’t know what to make of it.

I just knew it wasn’t good, but I don’t have the context that they have about the customer ticket or the product sprint. I didn’t have that context. I just knew something was off. And so what evolved from that was these five stages where the mention is just the simple Hey, I noticed this.

I’m not making grand conclusion, tell me what you think of this. And that was the key that unlocked it. And then we went to the invitation, which was, Hey, I noticed a couple of things. I noticed the pattern. I don’t, I have a theory about why that’s the case, but I’m not sure that it’s being addressed in a compelling enough way.

And then we went to the conversation to talk about the impact that it was having. And then we went to the boundary to talk about what happens if this doesn’t get fixed? And then we went to the limit when we said, okay we’re, we’ve done all the coaching that we can do. And what I found was when I started to do this for myself, and then I started to teach people this, 70 years ago that it unlocked something really magical on a team where people felt like they had space to work on themselves without feeling undue pressure.

Are feeling under the gun to make the dramatic behavioral change because people are not capable of making dramatic behavioral change in short periods of time. It doesn’t work that way. Behavioral change takes time.

So the feedback cycle, the accountant ability to doll is honoring the true nature of behavioral change is we need information. We need information that comes from a place of curiosity. We need pressure. We need someone who keeps their attention on the thing that they want us to change. Doesn’t just go away. It doesn’t say it once and then forget about it forever. Every teenager knows how to work with their parents, right? If you say the thing once, and then you forget about it, they learn. Okay. All I have to do is duck. For a minute, the storm will pass. I don’t have to change. So there’s a bunch of ingredients for how to facilitate behavioral change that we’ve honored with the accountability doll. And that’s the primary tool that we teach, not just for managers with their direct reports, but a lot of the times with peer-to-peer co managers, co-leaders, co executives in an organization.

And we also teach it for people how to give feedback up. So it’s a framework for how to start and maintain. A conversation in a way that doesn’t create defensiveness and people shutting down and people feeling like you don’t understand, why is that coming out of left field? Because it’s has consistency.

It has care.

Luke: Yeah, I think that it helped me the most was that it allowed me to say things that I was noticing how without feeling like I’m going to be cutting someone cutting out under the legs or something.

Yes, exactly.

In my particular case, I had, certain situations that I wanted to do something about it, but at the same time, I didn’t really have a good structure. This way of looking at it from the point of view of a coaching conversation helped a lot, I think in terms of being able to actually raise issues, but in a way that was exploratory and collaborative.

How to delegate with undermining people

Jonathan Raymond: There’s something you said just before, which, which is I can’t impress upon enough. It’s so important is that we, what we don’t realize is how easy it is to undermine people. It’s so easy to undermine and disempower and cut the legs out from somebody. And it’s so difficult to recover. You’ve done that. And that’s it. There’s one thing that people get from the book is how exactly what you described.

How do I say what I see? How do I talk about what I see in a way that doesn’t do that? Or at least minimizes the likelihood.

If you’ve got somebody on your team who’s just gets triggered at anything and you’d be like, there’s nothing you can do. You’re gonna have to deal with that in another way.

But how do we operate as leaders and managers, especially because people have so much going on outside of work, our world is so screwed up. And so many ways there’s some, depending upon where you live, the version of the screwed up is different. But people have a lot going on. And it’s so easy even before all of that to undermine and disempower people.

So we need a way to talk about what’s real, to be honest, to be truthful, but in a way that doesn’t undermine people and take the legs out from them before they’ve had an opportunity to get better.

Remote accountability when letting someone go

Luke: We talked about the beginning of the noticing and the deepening what about when you’re getting towards the end, when you do realize someone just isn’t interested or capable to do what you want or what the organization needs? How does this mindset help them? And you?

Jonathan Raymond: So a couple of things with her, which I found really interesting what the what the data has shown over time is that when you use the accountability dial, and again, the mindset that we talked about at the beginning, not the accountability dollar as a weapon, but as a coaching tool, When you do that, you will find that you have far less of a need to have those difficult boundary termination conversations.

Because one of two things will happen. People will receive the feedback earlier and make the changes that you want, or they will opt out. And this has organizations that are using the accountability, though. What happens is that people, when they’re getting feedback, Where they can’t hide. Where, how they’re behaving, how they’re showing up.

They’re not being collaborative. They’re not doing the things that they said they were going to do when they start to get feedback about that. People go, you know what? I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t like, that’s not a good feeling right now. Some people will keep going, right? Because some people will push through for one reason or another.

But so those two things that knocks a lot of people off, some people will change. That’s the hide, the ideal outcome. And some people will leave. And then you have this third group, of people who won’t change or won’t change fast enough or can’t right. And maybe that’s just, it’s just not, they don’t, there’s a capability issue.

There’s just not, there’s a talent gap. That’s fine. It happens. Is there, it starts with framing that up to be able to, and this is a question that I will often ask, I’ll say, okay, give me a behavior. I’ll ask you. So Luke. Give me a behavior. It doesn’t have to be a current person on your team, but someone in the past that was behaving in a way or showing up in a way that wasn’t what you needed from them at the time.

What were they doing that wasn’t good or effective or good enough? What was the behavior?

Sure. So it was a developer who would finish a piece of work and give it directly to the quality assurance team without checking that what you just did actually works.

Okay, great. So I’m going to give this person the ability to stay on your team, doing exactly that thing.

Not following the process that you need handing it directly over instead of that intermediary step. And they’re going to do it exactly that way for the next 10 years and stay on your team. How do you feel about that? Not great. How about five years and and more importantly, not just me. I think other people that we’re both working with also so five years you want to keep me for five years.

There was a pattern. I was escalating it and yeah. At a certain point I realized that this, yeah this isn’t working.

So what, where we get to without exercises, we should note in larger organizations, especially, but even in smaller ones, sometimes what I’m about to describe isn’t as clean a process.

Like you, you have HR, there’s a lot of messiness to this, but to frame up that conversation, and what I’ve found is that we, the behavior like the one that you were describing, there’s a timeline that you have in your head, by which that behavior needs to change. And it is almost never longer than 90 days.

It’s not a day. There’s some willingness. Hey, if I saw some progress, if I saw some willingness, if I saw a little bit of movement, I would be willing to let this play out for a little bit longer. So it’s not a day, but it’s not 90 days. And somewhere in there is your boundary in your head of how much longer you’re willing to deal with this.

Remote accountability and the invisible 90 day boundary

In its current state, the only problem is we haven’t told the person that. So the boundary, which is stage four in the accountability dial is to have that conversation. Hey, so we’ve been, and this is the key we’ve I’ve made some mentions about it. We’ve been in this conversation. We’ve been talking about the impact, you’ve been, doing your part to try to work on this a little bit, but for whatever reason where I think we are is it’s not changing or it’s not changing enough or fast enough, That’s how I’m seeing it.

And I want to talk about what are we going to do about that right now that might happen in 90 days for a certain type of behavior? Probably not. Most of the time it should happen pretty soon, right? Like within a couple of weeks or 30 days, or we can’t let a lot of time go by before we have that, what the conversation is and then the boundary.

And once, once you’ve used the first steps of the accountability dial and you’re coming from from a coaching mindset, that’s why I’m being a bit of a broken record. What you’ll find is that conversation’s a lot easier to have. And then you’re in this, you’re in a room, maybe it’s a zoom room, but you’re in a room with a person and you say, Hey, here’s how I’m seeing it.

How are you seeing it? Oh, and then what you will get is people feel like, yeah, I know what you mean. I’m really struggling because of these, in these things. And I’ve really tried and, whatever it’s okay. So let’s put a frame around this. What would a boundary look like? What would a consequence look like for you to, that would help you.

Inverting responsibility on the employee

Make this change. I get that. It’s hard. I get that you’ve been operating a certain way for your whole career or one year or whatever. I get that the last manager didn’t make a big issue of this. And I get all of those things. What’s an agreement that you and I can make so that you can change this behavior in a way that’s positive.

That feels like a meaningful change for you. And that I also get what I need from your performance. What would that look like? Can you take, can you, my direct report, I’d love for you to sleep on that. Let’s stop her one-on-one or let’s finish our one-on-one today. We’ll talk about some other stuff and let’s revisit that next week.

And I’d love for you to do some thinking. I don’t want to be the one to say this and this doesn’t happen then blah, blah, blah. That’s not how I want to lead this team. I would rather you come and say, Hey, I get it, Luke, I get it, Jonathan. I understand why you’re frustrated. I understand what the problem is.

Here’s my plan for how I’m going to change it. What do you think? That’s the outcome that we want, right? We want them to author like people, you hear people say smart people say the employee should offer the one-on-one. Great. How often does that actually happen? Very rarely, except in the supremely motivated person.

So this is one of the ways that you get the, you have to get your, the people on your team to be offering their own destiny by asking them questions. Hey, rather than me come up with a plan how about you come up with a plan. I’ll do this. I’ll give you feedback. I’ll we’ll talk about it. It’s not, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you come back with the first draft.

That’s what the boundary conversation should be like.

Remote accountability under lockdown

Luke: Yeah, this tool was super useful in the context of remote teams. I’m wondering how. You, your clients, people around you, how they fared now that everything has moved to remote only with the benefit of these tools or as or if they’re learning them, let’s say during the lockdown period, what they’re getting out of it.

Jonathan Raymond: I’ve noticed two primary themes that have emerged. So when we used to do everything in person I’m almost everything in person. And then when COVID hit and, whatever it was, the last February. March. And we sent him, I was like, okay what’s the, what are we going to do now?

We shifted the entire business to online as we had to. What I’ve found was two things happened at the same time was managers and leaders who were already under enormous pressure already under enormous strain that went like TEDx. Where the level of burden, emotional and mental space that managers and leaders were being asked to hold TEDx off the charts.

And now we don’t have the social benefits of physical space from that. A lot of teams were remote already, but for teams that were in person that had gone through remote, it was really difficult. The first theme was things got way harder.

And the other thing that I found was. People almost defaulted into becoming more of a coach out of necessity was they ended up in so many more conversations that were the types of conversations that I was trying to get them to have in 2018 and 2019. But in 2020, they started doing it out of necessity and they started, ended up doing a little bit of therapy, right? A little bit of life coaching, a little bit of. Ministry in some is they ended up doing a lot of the things that people like me have been telling people that they needed to do for a long time. People started doing this and they started using the accountability dial to frame and create boundaries and structure around that conversation.

Because once you open that door, it’s really easy to go too far. It’s really easy to find yourself making excuses for people being too understanding, being too empathic. And then it comes back on you because you’re not delivering the results that you need to deliver as an editor. So that was so things got way harder.

The team one and the accountability dial really helped people create boundaries around those conversations. I’m a coach to my that’s my job. My job is to facilitate the growth of my team. But it’s not my job to be their therapist. It’s not my job to be their marriage counselor. It’s not my job to be their relocation specialist. Those are not my jobs, but I need a way to talk about that. That doesn’t undermine the good relationships stuff that I’m building.

Luke: Where can people find out more?

Jonathan Raymond: We’ve got some links. I’m assuming it’ll be refound.com/launch tomorrow. If it’s not, we’ll fix it in the show notes. I’m sure.

More like refound.com/managingremoteteams.

Jonathan Raymond: That has a video course on the accountability dial that people can check out. A link to good authority, which you can get everywhere. Of course, Amazon, but other places too. And a one-on-one meeting guide, we’ve got up there on the page, a ways to get in touch with us. So there’s a bunch of free stuff. There’s some other stuff in there too for people to check it out and learn more about this approach.

Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you very much.

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