Team Accountability Exercise

Published: August 8, 2016

Try this exchange if you’d like to boost transparency and accountability on your team. It’s a simple exercise that unveils each teammate’s contribution to the group and a glimpse of the motives that drive their passion for the work. To implement this exercise with your team, follow these five simple steps:

Step 1

Each teammate picks five strengths that best reflect the aspects of their work that drive the most energy and passion. There are many strengths on the menu of options but only five can be selected. Once chosen, force-rank from the most (1) to the least (5) energizing. Here are some samples:

  • Analytical
  • Business Acumen
  • Compassion
  • Composure
  • Creativity
  • Integrity & Trust
  • Intellectual Horsepower
  • Leadership
  • Priority Setting
  • Problem Solving
  • Strategic Agility
  • Teamwork

Step 2

Each teammate selects five priorities that best reflect why he or she does this work. Ideally, our work elevates a sense of purpose and values. These five should tell that story. There are countless motivations for our contributions to the world. Each teammate must narrow it to five and force-rank from the strongest driver (1) to the relative weakest (5). Here are some samples:

  • Compensation & benefits
  • Exploration & discovery
  • Growth & learning
  • Helping others
  • Making a difference in the world
  • Prestige & recognition
  • Solving complex problems
  • Teaching & mentoring
  • Work/life balance

Step 3

One by one, each teammate shares their narrative. These are my strengths and these are my priorities. This is what I contribute to the team and this is why I do this work. Put it in historical context. There’s a unique story that leads to today’s choices. Tell your story.

Step 4

Offer feedback. Does your teammate’s narrative resonate with the words and actions you see each day? Share examples. Seize the chance to share a compliment or challenge an opportunity for growth. Fill the exchange with respect and professionalism.

Step 5

Communicate a commitment to aligned action. Notice that none of the sample strengths and priorities describe an employee who is selfish, mean, disrespectful, arrogant, unprofessional, or condescending. By sharing your story, you communicate an agreement to behave in a way that reflects your best self. The exercise also gives permission for your teammates to call you out when your words or actions are inconsistent with your professed character. Transparency and accountability are the building blocks of trust in a workplace culture. The Team Accountability Exercise is a starting point.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.