By Roger Wolkoff, All About Authenticity and Stephanie Angelo, High Stakes Mastermind Groups
People in the service industry and those who run appointment-based businesses know the value of a promise. At its simplest level, an appointment is a two-person contract. Both parties agree to arrive at a specified time to complete an agreed upon task or service. For example, when you make an appointment to see your doctor, you agree to show up at 10:00 for 30 minutes for medical treatment and advice. Your doctor also agrees to show up at 10:00 for 30 minutes to provide said treatment and advice.
Put differently, appointments are accountabilities. Both parties, service provider and service receiver, are accountable to each other and the outcomes. A service contract highlights two key areas: holding yourself accountable and holding someone else accountable.
Accountable means responsible or answerable. Do what you say you’re going to do. It makes you credible. It builds relationships. It builds trust.
One aspect of accountability we can overlook is what role boundaries play. For example, “When is my work solely my work and not open to being used by others?” More specifically, “If I create a work product or process for an organization in which I volunteer, and it makes my life easier, do I have an obligation to make that work product or process available to the organization? I fulfill my accountability to the organization when I perform my role, but beyond that, does a boundary exist to protect my proprietary process and product?”
And this is where things can get thorny. It’s necessary to set boundaries to confound any assumptions or expectations about what we presume when we enter into service (or accountability) to ourselves and others. It’s easy for emotions, personalities, and our sense of right and wrong to play into the narrative of expectations and outcomes.
At what point do others feel entitled to more than what we promise to deliver? There are situations where it’s easy for us to be taken advantage of and create unspoken accountabilities and assumed promises. In these cases, clarifying roles is essential.
Consider the other side of the coin, as well. Ask yourself, is it worth the fight or the effort to protect something on principle? Or is it easier, in the long run, to maintain a relationship, or control the conversation?
Think about a work situation. Let’s say, for example, that your job requires you to produce a project plan for your client and you agree to deliver the plan. Over time and as you learn more about the project, you don’t believe that creating a project plan is necessary or worth your client’s time. Your manager disagrees and reminds you that it’s part of the standard work products you are required to deliver, and you agreed to do the work. Six weeks later, you remain firm in your belief that doing the work is a waste of time and you still haven’t done the plan.
Did you break trust? In this case, yes. You were accountable for the work and promised to deliver it. Regardless of your belief in the necessity of the work, you made a promise and by not delivering, you broke trust. Interestingly, one antonym for “accountable” is “untrustworthy”.
The issue at hand here is the fact that this was a work-place situation. The manager had the right to request the product in question, in this case a project plan. Consider it “other duties as assigned.” However, when we’re speaking of a volunteer scenario, for example a Board of Directors, no such obligation for the volunteer exists. Not delivering may lead to disappointment, but it should never lead to discipline (that would only be possible in the case of a crime, such as theft).
Back to our doctor appointment example, Dr. Judith Ziol, a Chandler, Arizona Naturopathic physician says, “I make it a point to never, ever make a patient wait more than five minutes”.
If you want to build trust and credibility, do what you say you’re going to do. When you are in the position to request deliverables and fulfill appointments, you can set the stage by showing others that you are trustworthy by holding yourself accountable first.
There may not be easy answers. However, the simpler the social contract, the easier the accountability.
Roger Wolkoff will help you discover how emotional intelligence paired with authenticity improves communication, ups productivity, and positively influences culture. Visit https://www.rogerwolkoff.com/ to connect with Roger and work with him to help you deliver results and grow your bottom line. Roger is a keynote motivational speaker and author from Madison, Wisconsin.
Stephanie Angelo keynotes and facilitates workshops on Cultures of Learning, Strategic Thinking and Collaborative Accountability, in addition, she facilitates Mastermind Groups for entrepreneurs. Imagine what it’s like to be a business owner with a hunger for collaboration with other business owners who experience the same challenges you do. Stephanie will help you take the Silo out of Solo. Contact her at www.StephanieAngelo.com