TAP: The Accountability Process

Holding each other accountable is a critical part of working well together. All leaders must master this. Many struggle to get others to follow through. But with TAP (The Accountability Process), it’s really straightforward. There are two main steps:

  1. Agree on who will do what by when.
  2. Whoever has agreed to accomplish something gets it done by the agreed time and date.

Simple, right?


In your corner,


PS: What do you mean, “Too simple,”?

PPS: Oh. Yes. That.

PPPS: So, a few more steps will help.

When things go wrong

  1. If you realize that you can’t get a task done by the agreed time and date, alert ASAP the people expecting the task and renegotiate a new “what by when.”
  2. If you realize that you don’t know how to get the promised task done, go ask for help ASAP. Renegotiate a new “what by when” if necessary.
  3. If a task you are expecting doesn’t get done on time, say so. Quickly, directly, and matter-of-factly point out to the person who committed to do the task that it isn’t complete on time. Renegotiate a new “what by when.”
  4. If a task you are expecting doesn’t get done well, say so. Quickly, directly, and matter-of-factly point out to the person who did the task that it is not done well enough. Describe what specifically you use to judge quality. Train if necessary. Renegotiate a new “what by when.”
  5. If the original task was to create a draft of something and you find it is lacking something, (d) above doesn’t apply. It’s a draft. Edit, teach, and make a new TAP request for the next draft.

Other tips

  • For project or larger tasks, agree on milestones. Treat each milestone its own TAP commitment.
  • Allow people to say no. When we make a request for a “what by when,” the others get to say, “Yes,” “No,” or “Let’s negotiate.” If they say, “No,” ask them to negotiate something that works for you both. Without letting them say, “No,” we are taking over their responsibility to commit and follow through.
  • Allow people to set their own “by when” deadlines. Negotiate these deadlines only if extenuating circumstances make their deadlines impractical or unhelpful.
  • Notice that TAP goes every direction: boss to employee, employee to boss, peer to peer, employee to client, client to employee, etc.


In your corner, really,



Today’s photo credit: bill lapp cc

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