Something Came Up, or How Not to be Accountable

How often has this occurred in your organization? Your meeting starts and a member of your team (Tom) that really should be in the meting rolls in ten minutes later and says, “Sorry my previous meeting ran long.” What is your response?

  • It’s OK his meeting ran long.
  • It’s not OK he broke his commitment to be in this meeting

How your organization handles things like this will determine whether you are accountable or not, whether you are high performing or not. There are two things that have happened here:

  1. Tom broke trust with the team. They trusted him to be as engaged in this as everyone else.
  2. Tom tried to say it was not his fault it was the other meeting. But really Tom made a choice, didn’t he?

People are creatures of habit and in many organizations, people have meetings scheduled back to back to back. I remember one CFO at a hospital in Southern California telling me he had meetings scheduled every hour of the day from 8:00 until 5:00. Sometimes three in the same time block.  Well that’s just stupid. If you can’t manage your calendar, then that is a whole different conversation and I have a business partner that can help.

If you look at your calendar and see that your meetings are back to back to back, you must realize that one will be cut short for you. Or, you will be late to another one. If you are truly accountable you clean up the mess as soon as you are aware of it. It is not a throw away line, “My other meeting ran long.”

Tom, the fictitious manager, in this case also made another choice, didn’t he? He chose to be powerless. He allowed the meeting to control his schedule and his choices. If we don’t hold people accountable to our meetings start and stop times how are you going to hold them accountable for production? The behavior you tolerate in one part of your business, bleeds into other parts.

There is a lot of talk of culture. And many surveys say it is one of the top executives’ biggest concerns. I don’t think it has to be very complicated. Culture is the behaviors you tolerate day in and day out. Said another way, if you want to manage your culture, manage the behaviors of everyone on the team.

Photo by from Pexels

So back to being late for the meeting? What do you do. I have a friend who is late to every meeting that he attends, except for his yoga class. That is because the yoga teacher closes the door and class begins. If the door is closed, you can’t enter.

Three things you can do to help people be accountable to their meetings or for any other commitment they have made:

  1. State the expectations clearly and succinctly. “We will start our meetings on time and we expect everyone to be present.”
  2. State the exception to the rules. “If you are going to be late for some reason, let the meeting leader know in advance and negotiate either a different time and or how late you can be.”
  3. When someone is late to the meeting, address it with them either in the meeting or after.


If you would like to learn how you or your team can benefit from better communication skills for accountability, engagement and performance, schedule a call with John to explore the possibilities. CALENDAR


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