If you are going to hold people accountable…they’d better know how to do what you want them to do.

man sitting on wood pile with bible in his hand

Sarah and I could hear our two sons playing, laughing, and yelling. The only problem was the time.

It was 6:04 a.m.

They are not supposed to get up until 6:30 a.m.

Leaders confront these kinds of issues, so off to the bedroom I went.

I asked Will – our 6 year old – what time he got up?

No answer.

So as a good leader, I persisted.

Finally, he told me that he awoke sometime around 5 a.m.

I suspected he was the ring leader, but I also knew that Ben – our 4 year old – was no saint either.

So I also asked Ben what time he got up.

“Well,” he said, “I can’t read the clock, so I don’t know.”

Realizing the only clock in Ben’s room is an old iPhone dock with a broken clock, and remembering that Ben is FOUR, it took everything in me to not burst out laughing.

Chuckle aside, this experience is instructive to leadership at work and elsewhere. How often do I hold people accountable for things they currently don’t have the skills to be held accountable for?

Am I, or are we as an organization, training them for those skills? Are our expectations transparent in the first place? Are they easily understood?

Before you dismiss this a kind of problem your organization doesn’t struggle with, I challenge you to think of the last time you implemented a new technology.

How often do you assume that people on your team know how to use the new technology you have implemented? Maybe they haven’t reached out for help, so is it safe to assume that they know what they’re doing?

Not necessarily.

The only way to be sure, is to be sure. In other words, you have to see them use it.

I share this insight because it is a weakness of mine. We, for example, have a beautiful sales app that can be used on iPads for presentations. I automatically assumed that our team would run with it. I asked if there were any questions and hardly anyone spoke up.

A little over a year later, and I rarely see anyone use it besides myself.

I am at fault here because our sales people are good at what they do. It is something that is new, and therefore, I should have spent more time with them on it.

I will going forward.

I hope my insight challenges you on how you can help those on your team.