4 Tips for Establishing Accountability without the Authority

Establishing accountability without the authority…


How can I get Randy to give me the reports I need when he doesn’t even report to me?

I was asked this question during a recent meeting with a supervisor, Tim. Tim did not have a direct reporting relationship with Randy, but he was dependent on him for a weekly report. While Randy would give Tim the report each week, Tim needed to ask for it. He was becoming quite frustrated because he had hoped Randy would “just work with me on this and bring the reports on his own every week. He knows I need them,” Tim said.

Most of us agree that we are directly accountable to our supervisors and managers –

If our work performance is deficient, there may be consequences and supervisors have the authority to initiate consequences.

[message type=”warning”]What if you need help from a co-worker who doesn’t report directly to you?  –  Can you influence their performance?[/message]

The short answer is yes.

Employees – whether you have a direct reporting relationship or not – tend to react to rewarding relationships more readily that to systems of authority. Tim needed to rethink how he was encouraging performance from Randy, and possibly from his staff.

On some level, Tim’s question reflected a problem he was having with his supervisory style – he was trying to manage through authority rather than relationship. However, even the most effective supervisor can have difficulty encouraging a productive working relationship with an employee from another department.

4  Tips for Establishing Accountability without the Authority –


  1. Work on the relationship first. This means that you will be reaching out and forming relationships with as many employees as possible in your company. This is always a good practice. If, later, you move to management, you will have set the stage for many positive work relationships. Swooping in to ask for information may get you what you want when you want, but not because you want it.
  2. Give context. Explain why you need something. The more information you can share with the employee, the more likely that employee will be able to give you everything you need because there is context – the employee understands why the information is needed.
  3. Include the employee in the process, if you can. In Tim’s case, there were weekly corporate conference calls about the project that used the information Randy needed to give Tim. When Tim included him in the calls, Randy felt a sense of ownership in the project. It didn’t take long for Randy to provide, on his own initiative, the reports Tim required and additional information that Tim wasn’t aware of regarding the project. Tim and Randy became a team.
  4. Show appreciation. It doesn’t take much to say “thank you” or “good job” and those words are important regardless of your relationship with someone.





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