Do you have an “incompetence protection program” in your business?

Do you have an “incompetence protection program” in your business?

I recently attended a virtual TEC Canada event where Ruthless Consistency author Michael Canic was the keynote speaker. Canic’s presentation was full of practical takeaways – in fact, I counted no less than 13 of them that I can apply in my business and suggest to my clients. In this article, I will highlight my #1 takeaway from the session: Canic’s concept of “constructive accountability”.

Constructive accountability is a five-step process that business leaders can use whenever a team member falls short of expectations. The process can be used to help leaders and managers be more effective (and more comfortable) holding team members accountable. 

While it’s important to hold people accountable for their own sake, it’s even more important for the sake of other members of the team. In other words, if a team member is allowed to deviate from the expectations, values, or norms of the business without repercussion, this gives implicit permission to every other member of the team to do the same. The result is that the very fabric of the business will erode over time. Culture will suffer. Morale—and profitability—will plummet.

But because holding team members accountable can be so uncomfortable, leaders often avoid it. They permit team members to enter what Canic comically calls the “incompetence protection program”. I’m sure you’ve seen this happen in your business – either currently or in the past. I sure have. 

Here are the five steps—you could call them the 5Cs—of constructive accountability:

  1. Common purpose: Establish that you’re on the same team and how everyone benefits from working together to achieve both individual and team goals.
  2. Confront reality: Talk about what happened and what occurred as a result. Don’t sugar coat it.
  3. Coach: Take responsibility to help the person succeed. (“How can I support you?”)
  4. Clear expectations: Make sure everyone involved knows what is expected of them going forward (what and by when).
  5. Check-in: Follow up regularly to see how they are doing.

Armed with these five steps, you can be more confident holding people accountable in your business. Yes it can be uncomfortable, but growth in business (as in life) most often occurs outside your comfort zone.

For more from Canic on constructive accountability, see here

And for more on the benefits of becoming a member of a TEC Canada peer advisory board of non-competing business owners, see here.