In high performance organizations, individuals not only strive to keep the commitments they make, they are also willing to confront co-workers who don’t keep theirs. However, holding others accountable can be awkward—especially when the “other” is a peer. This role play enables both team leaders and team members to work through the discomfort of these situations in a non-threatening environment.
“A Little More Time” Role Play Scenario
Marketing VP Kimberly is preparing her 45-person consulting firm’s major proposal for a year’s worth of work from a major client. She knows that demonstrating the staff’s depth of experience will be the key to winning this contract. That means a strong, focused, well-written resume section in the proposal document.
At the weekly managers’ meeting, Kimberly asks Sam to take responsibility for collecting the resumés and background information from seven team leaders who will have key roles on the project. Sam will need to make sure the resumés are up-to-date, consistent in format and clearly focused on the client’s industry. Only four of this group are present at the meeting. Sam is one of the seven. He willingly accepts ownership for the task and aims to please.
It is three weeks until the proposal is due. Sam and Kimberly meet to discuss how the resumés will be used in the proposal—but they don’t spend time discussing the actual process of collecting and updating them. Kimberly expresses her appreciation to Sam for taking on the task, and he agrees to have the updated resumés to her in ten days. No problem—it all seems straightforward enough.
Ten days later, 3:30am. Sam is working at home the morning before his deadline. He is rewriting two of the resumés, and he is missing another two altogether. Sam was certain he had emailed these managers to request their resumés,—they work in one of the firm’s out-of-state offices and he doesn’t know them well. His own resumé and the ones he received from two other team leaders are in good shape. He decides to ask Kimberly for two more days to complete the assignment.
Set Up the Role Play
Instruct participants to read the “A Little More Time” scenario (above). Have them role play two ways of concluding the scenario.
1) First, role play Kimberly responding when Sam comes to her to ask for several more days to complete the assignment. One partner plays Kimberly, the other plays Sam. Allow no more than five minutes for this role play.
2) Second, role play a scene between Sam and one of the team leaders who has not provided their information to Sam. One partner plays Sam, the other plays the team leader. Allow no more than five minutes for this role play.
Debrief the Role Play Activity
Ask the participants:
1. How comfortable were you in the first role play where Kimberly was responding Sam’s request for more time?
2. Did people find it more difficult to hold a peer accountable in the second role play? If so, what made it more difficult?
3. What are some things a person should do when holding another person accountable?
Look for responses such as:
· First, ask yourself, “How may I have contributed to this poor result—was I clear about what I needed?”
· Don’t jump to conclusions, hear the other person out.
· In the discussion, use “I” statements such as “I have trouble keeping my commitments when I don’t receive your information by the deadline.”
· Work together on a plan to rectify the situation and determine how to keep it from happening again.
· Ask “What do you need from me? More notice, more help, better instructions, etc.?”)
4. What are the consequences of not confronting those (either subordinates or co-workers) who have not kept a commitment?
This material excerpted from the Leader’s Guide to the video program, Accountability That Works!.