New study reveals most managers think they hold their teams accountable, but in fact lack the proper skills.

Three quarters of managers have to take on extra work every week to compensate for under-performing staff, according to a new study into workplace accountability conducted by Grahame Robb Associates Ltd. One in ten managers claimed they did seven hours or more per week extra because members of their team couldn’t complete specific tasks or meet targets.

Over half of the managers who took part in the study claimed they discuss the behaviour with their team member the first time a deadline or target is missed, with a further 20 percent raising concerns the second time it happens. A full fifty percent of the respondents said they spend half an hour or longer preparing for these accountability conversations.

If it is indeed the case – that managers overall are quick to hold their team accountable – it begs the question: Why are so many managers taking on additional work?

Despite their good intentions, according to the study, many do not see the behaviour change they’re expecting when they hold staff accountable. A full 80 percent of managers said they see these bad habits return within three months of a discussion regarding performance. In addition, 63 percent believe they have to raise a concern twice or more to see an improvement in behaviour. If managers have to spend over half an hour preparing for these conversations and raise concerns multiple times, then a significant amount of time is wasted trying to create sustainable behaviour change.

“Our study outlines a common problem managers face when trying to create a culture of accountability,” said Joe Mackintosh, Senior Facilitator at Grahame Robb Associates Ltd. “Despite confronting issues early, many see problems re-surface. When expectations are violated it is important to consider all of the possible reasons why a member of the team hasn’t delivered against expectations; we’re often quick to identify a problem as a lack of motivation, yet this is rarely the correct diagnosis.”

“Masking the real issue by discussing other areas of success can also be a significant barrier to resolving the problem,” added Clish. “It is important to outline the expected performance and then describe the gap to what was actually delivered before inviting reasons for the missed deadline or target.”

About the study:

Who Does What By When? is a study undertaken by Grahame Robb Associates Ltd in which 134 managers, from over 100 public and private sector organisations in the UK, took part in an online survey in August 2014.

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