Accountability Can be Tough


“Holding people accountable is not for the faint of heart and here are some pieces of advice that have gotten us through these moments.”


Accountability Can be Tough

We have been there…too many times. Getting called into an environment where a small group of people have gotten away with something for WAY too long. It’s hard. It’s harder if you have been in the environment or in charge while people have behaved in these toxic or destructive ways.

Our rule of thumb is the 80/20 principal and we see it play out over and over. 20 percent of the people are making 80 percent of the problems.

In a healthy culture, that 20 percent are usually not emboldened by their environment and are trained with the skills to detect their own toxicity. But we have


walked into places where those 20 percent bring the whole 100 percent of the team down.  

This is a drain for everyone. If you are a leader who has seen this happening to your team, you might feel like there’s nothing you can do. Maybe you have some guilt that you have let it go on too long. In one of our cases, we saw this 20 percent rally against multiple leaders and have those leaders dismissed. They were highly skilled at ruining careers.



Holding people accountable is not for the faint of heart and here are some pieces of advice that have gotten us through these moments.

  1. Re-visit your values If you haven’t already, identify the values you strive to live by. Name these values for yourself and limit them to 2 or 3. Then write down the behaviors you emulate when you live these values. Is allowing these people to have control over the workspace in conflict with these values? 
  2. Re-norm the team Take your team back through their values and let them know that you will be holding people accountable if they violate these values further. Have a discussion on what that looks like.


3. Document Write down what you have established in these meetings and the values your team will follow going forward. Then begin to document how people are succeeding or dismissing these values.

4. Meet After you have given your 20 percent of people a chance to re-align and change. Note those who actually ARE and meet with them to acknowledge their success. 

5. Meet Again Now you will have a few people who have continued to foster a toxic environment. You’ve documented it. Meet with them and let them know that you are aware. Document that conversation in a follow-up email and establish the expectations going forward.

6. Terminate We don’t want it to come to this, and we are workforce retention experts, but if someone continues to violate values and norms established by your team, they need to find another place to be.

Nothing will bring a culture down faster than a group that is allowed to continually bring negativity into the workspace. You will be losing people left and right if you let the 20 percent control the narrative and the environment. It is not easy, but if you are a leader, it’s up to you. Leadership is a HUGE responsibility and you can do this. Our hope is that steps 1-5 will be plenty, but we also want the rest or your workforce to feel like they are working in a place with healthy boundaries.

If you need help with this process, that’s what we do. Contact us for a meeting and we can support you. We know you can do this!