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Submitted by thebeezer on


BLUF: Is it really possible to hold supervisors accountable?

I'm a big believer in MT's guidance to not give feedback to the boss. My boss and I have a good relationship and we were recently describing Lencioni's 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. I described my struggle with holding my peers accountable and he reiterated the importance of holding them and him accountable.

I can understand the peer model and using peer feedback to accomplish that. I could definitely do a better job with peer feedback yet I am a bit stumped about holding my boss accountable. If I use the feedback model, I'm giving my boss feedback. Hence I am not sure how to approach this. Any advice?

naraa's picture
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 I think feedback and accountability are two very different concepts.  Feedback is when you give input to somebody about a behaviour they have executed and the impact (consequences) of that behaviour on a given objetive, be this consequence good or bad and then you ask the person what they are going to do to avoid that to happen again in the future.  

Accountability is when people promise something or are committed to something, or their role description requires them to do something and they are not doing it.  For example, let´s say per company police, your boss must deliver you an anual performance review every say march.  It is abril, and you haven´t heard from him, there is nothing wrong on asking him for it, and by asking we mean making him "accountable" for it.    Another example, let´s say your boss informed you and committed to you on having a weekly one-on-one meeting with you.  She skips one meeting, next week he skips another meeting as he has just too much to do.  There is nothing wrong with you offering him/her some help on pending issues and reminding him/her to make an effort to continue with the weekly meetings, telling him/her how important that is to you.  Or you have asked your boss to review a document from you and he is getting late reviewing it....

My guess is that this is what your boss is saying by asking you to hold him accountable, helping him, reminding him of committements, obligations she has with you and which may slip every now and then due to too many obligations.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

This is where building a relationship with your boss helps.  You can't give feedback to your boss.  You can't really hold your boss accountable (not in the sense of any definition of the term I'm aware of), that would imply that you are able to impose some sort of consequences on them.  You can, as Nara discussed, politely remind them of things they have committed to.  You can use relationship power to influence your boss.    The stronger the relationship you have with your boss the more effective such polite reminders can be.



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thebeezer's picture
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I will commit to using polite reminders as my way of holding my boss accountable.

430jan's picture

I have a super boss who is also a friend, but even so I am very careful.

One of the tools I use is our O3 notes. If we discuss something I try to always have a written time/date that the task or project is due, and also develop written timelines together. Then it doesn't come off as sassy if I am just referring to my notes as a follow-up to a conversation we had. The paper is doing the sassing... I appreciate this from my directs as well.