Note: This is post 7 of 7 of a series exploring social accountability. If this is your first blog to read in the series, catching up is easy: Start with the Great Expectations: Why the Best Leaders Create Social Accountability entry work your way forward.

After you’ve created a culture of social accountability, the way you hold your team accountable and assess outcomes is vital. Verifying fulfillment is the last step in building social accountability, but it’s also the piece that will ensure the new environment you’ve cultivated continues and grows even stronger.

Like so many other steps in this process, strong communication is the heart of verifying fulfillment well. An outcome will generally fall into one of three categories: exceeded expectations, met expectations, or fell short of expectations. No matter which category best describes your assessment of the outcome, your response needs to achieve three key things:

  • Foster a sense of accountability. You’ve worked so hard to create a sense of shared accountability, so don’t abandon those principles now. When you foster accountability, you make people feel appreciated, give them purpose, and help them feel part of the team.
  • Encourage open dialogue. While you are definitely charged with communicating your assessment, you should not talk at your people, but rather, with them. Give them plenty of chances to speak about the outcome, too.
  • Reinforce the strides you’ve already made toward forming, communicating, and aligning best expectations. All of the habits you’ve developed over the previous steps, from asking questions and being clear to conveying real trust and respect, come into play here.

Before moving on to offer suggestions for actual responses and ground to cover no matter the outcome, please consider: If your team’s work falls short of your expectations, the reason for the failure may be you. How did you form, communicate, and align your expectations, and then align your people to them? Be honest with yourself and make adjustments before assuming the fault is in others. Remember, the only leader who needs to change is you.

Review these four response charts for ideas about how to communicate your assessments to your team in ways that continue to build social accountability:

Fostering social accountability is more than just a smart strategy. It’s a mandatory characteristic of any truly successful initiative or organization. There will always be times when expectations are not met. It’s how you respond as the team’s leader that makes the difference.

Through my All-In Events, I work with leaders around the world to build social accountability in their teams. If you’re facing a problem or need help transforming your company’s culture, I want to hear from you. Are you All-In?