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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Accountability - Match Tasks to Influence [and Strengths]

by Rick Baker
On Sep 11, 2013

People cannot be fully accountable. Full accountability is an unrealistic expectation. That's setting the bar too high. There are many reasons why people cannot be fully accountable: they do not have 100% control over themselves; willpower has its good days and its bad days; they cannot exert perfect influence on other people; other people have minds of their own; multi-tasking is a distraction that takes focus off specific-task accountability...and many other reasons.


Some of the people can be accountable some of the time.

None of the people can be accountable all of the time.

People can, however, be fully accountable for a few certain actions within their control. They can Influence their own actions...not all their actions all the time, but definitely a few of their actions some of the time.

One key to success is matching accountability with those actions people can self-Influence and perform with skill, repeatedly.

Consider each person whom you want to be accountable.

What specific actions do they believe they can be accountable for? Those are the things to focus on. Those are the right baby steps to take. Those are the actions that will bring constructive change.

Note to Leaders:

Unless you know you know what people can be accountable for, don't assume. Don't ever assume. Put another way, avoid the temptation to pick specific actions you believe or expect others can be accountable for. Instead, encourage others to help you understand what they believe they can be accountable for. 

  • Most likely they will pick items they know they can control or, at least, they think they have a good chance to control.
  • Most likely they will pick items that align with their Talents, Knowledge, Skills, and Strengths...i.e., they will Take Talent To Task.
  • Most likely they will pick items that align with their ability to exert self-Influence.
This approach maximizes the buy-in, which is a key facet of accountability.
What if your people choose items that are unimportant vis-à-vis your company's goals?
Well isn't that something worth learning up front before you waste energy force-fitting accountability on the person?
Isn't that something you can state to them?
And - can't you remind them of your company's goals and give them another chance to come up with a better-aimed thing to be accountable?
Wouldn't your people learn how to self-direct from that sort of interchange?
Wouldn't you learn about your people from that sort of interchange?



Delegation & Decisions | Leaders' Thoughts

Delegate Self-Motivation

by Rick Baker
On Sep 4, 2013

One of my early bosses advised me: Management is Motivating Mediocrity.

While I like the alliteration, I do not accept that advice.

I think we should not take the burden of motivating other people on our shoulders. That's a strategy doomed to fail. People are self-motivated...always. Their self-motivation applies whether or not we like the direction it is taking the person. And, poorly-directed self-motivation is rampant in business.

Leaders must create situations where people can self-motivate in directions that are aligned with business goals.

Leaders must delegate self-motivation and make sure they don't demotivate while they are delegating.

When delegating a task to a person allow the person to embrace accountability for 2 things:

  1. responsibility for self-motivation for full performance of the task and 
  2. responsibility for communicating about performance of the task.

Take the task off your To Do List, literally and figuratively. Know the person has accepted full responsibility and full accountability. Create a process that will ensure both you and the person know how and when communication will occur...that is: (1) the person (not you) will lead the communication and the communication will be planned and concise and (2) the communication will occur at your next 'team meeting'.

This advice also applies when you delegate authority for many tasks to a person, i.e.,  when you delegate tasks that will be performed either by the person directly or by people on the person's team. 


Delegation & Decisions | Leaders' Thoughts

P=2S+O and the 4 Hierarchies of Delegation

by Rick Baker
On Sep 3, 2013

The 4 Hierarchies of Delegation

When you assign responsibility and expect accountability you can give your subordinate one of the following 4 instructions:

  1. Investigate, report facts back to me, and I will make a decision on what you need to do.
  2. Investigate, give me alternative actions, with pluses and minuses of each, and give me your recommendation on the best option...then I will decide what you need to do.
  3. Think it through then activate your plan and advise me of what you did.
  4. Think it through then activate your plan and there is no need to inform me.
These progressive steps for delegation of decision-making authority can be summarized as:
  1. Think, let me know, & I will decide
  2. Think, recommend, & I will decide
  3. Think, take action, keep me informed.
  4. Think, take action, no need to inform me.
These steps can be used to help people learn how to handle responsibility and authority.
These steps can be used to build trust between bosses and their subordinates.
These steps can be used to help people learn...and develop Decision-Making knowledge and skill.


Subordinates should be accountable for their performance of delegated tasks.  This can be achieved by:

  • Evaluating performance based upon subordinates staying within authority boundaries.
  • Measuring performance based upon achieved results.
  • Scheduling update meetings with the subordinates. 
  • Listening to subordinates and coaching about action adjustments.


To be successful subordinates must be given the following structure:

  • A detailed job description
  • A written system to be followed
  • Training, coaching, & mentoring
  • Goals that can be measured
  • Goals that are achievable
  • Guidelines and standards of performance
  • Timeline schedules to be followed
  • Authority to act (Levels of authority should be pre-assigned...see above example of 4 Hierarchies)
  • Rewards for performance of actions and results




Thought Tweet #815.5

by Rick Baker
On Aug 30, 2013

Thought Tweet #815.5 Who is responsible for this work? [Do you ever ask questions about Delegation?]


The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Does this person have the authority to take the required actions...to do the required tasks?

Does this person have the natural talent to do the required tasks?

Does this person have the knowledge to do the required tasks?

Has the path been paved, providing the opportunity for this person to do the required tasks?

Has this person practiced the required action...does this person have the proven skill doing the tasks?

Does this person feel accountable for doing the work and communicating on work progress?


Delegation & Decisions | Questions?: The Art of Asking Good Questions | Thought Tweets

8 Ways Employees Fail to Handle Delegation

by Rick Baker
On Aug 27, 2013

Delegation can fail when employees lack ability due to:

  1. Poor hiring - the employee doesn't meet the requirements of the role
  2. Poor or no coaching or training - the employee lacks knowledge or practice at developing necessary skills, or both
  3. Employee's lack of intrinsic incentive - the employee does not have the drive/self-motivation to perform the tasks
  4. Employee's unwillingness to take risk - the employee may feel the downside risk exceeds the upside reward
  5. Employee's fear of punitive action - the employee may be thin skinned and feel 'beaten down' as a result of former criticism
  6. Poor communication - the task/authority/responsibility transfer may not have been clear and the employee simply did not understand the intent...this problem could be caused by failure to listen
  7. Employee dysfunction - work to rule, sabotage, etc.
  8. The I'm-too-busy mindset - this is a really troublesome catch-all...when we believe we are too busy we provide ourselves a blanket excuse for not listening, not remembering, not understanding, not accepting accountability, and not doing lots of other things
Often, people do not do what you expect them to do because they do not understand. As examples, they do not understand instructions or they do not understand how to perform the work. What we do not understand we cannot do.

There are Task Donors, There are Task Recipients, & Task Transplants Involve Compatibility

by Rick Baker
On Aug 24, 2013

There are Task Donors: those are the people who delegate tasks.

There are Task Recipients: those are the people who receive those delegated tasks. 

Task Transplants involve compatibility...if compatibility is not present then the transplant is rejected.

How might we test for Task-Transplant compatibility?

If we are a donor of tasks we can ask ourselves questions like:

  • Do I understand the various consequences of the assignment I am about to delegate?
  • Have I properly sold the task?

If we are a recipient of tasks we can ask ourselves questions like:

  • Do I understand the various aspects of the assignment I am about to receive/accept?
  • Have I bought the task?

And, donors and recipients together can discuss answers to questions like:

  • Do we both really understand the importance and urgency of the situation?
  • Have we considered the other Task Dimensions?
  • Have we communicated fully?

Task transplants succeed when the donors and recipients communicate fully, test for reasonableness, and test for task-transplant compatibility.


Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.