Accountability Matters- Coaching with Consequences

Smith-Lever logoDave Anderson (2001) contended that an organization’s ability to reach its potential is contingent upon the performance field managers get from their agents. This is especially true within Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service where our product which is education is primarily delivered by our educators. However, too many times our field managers coach without consequences.  Dave Anderson (2001) provides the following thoughts on coaching with consequences;

  • The only way to change behavior over the long-term is to change the consequences related to behavior; good or bad. To often we immediately associate consequences as a bad word, but consequences should be associated with good or bad performance.  For example, continually warning an agent who is late with monthly reports will have little impact until the District Extension Administrator or County Extension Director attaches consequences to this failure to fulfill the agent’s professional obligation associated with reporting. On the other hand, one of the best ways to motivate a excellent performing agent who has become complacent and is unwilling to stretch to the next performance level is to tie a positive consequence to stretching; something that motivates that person individually.
  • Whatever agents do at work regularly now is what field managers have accepted in the past. Again, if you have an agent who is consistently late with reports and field managers never even discuss the problem with this type of behavior, our field managers are unwillingly condoning late reports. In the case of late reporting agents should be informed immediately regarding their failure to meet their professional obligation and consequences should be tied to this notification. On the other hand, when agents do something well, they should be provided positive feedback and recognition.

One of the most important component of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s performance management system is coaching. Coaching is providing agents feedback regarding performance on an on-going basis, not just during performance review conferences.

The following graph depicts the systematic approach to performance management that is utilized by District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service;

All the concepts associated with accountability are only effective if our field managers focus on a performance management system which includes the following;

  •  Program Planning Conference and Agent Orientations where clear performance expectations are outlined- Any Performance Management System begins with District Extension Administrators/County Extension Directors and Regional Program Directors establishing clearly defined performance expectations.
  • Professional Development and Training– All effective performance management systems have effective professional development and training in place to provide County Extension Agents with the professional competencies to accomplish the programmatic goals established during Program Planning Conferences.
  • Monitoring Agent Performance– District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors should monitor performance on a monthly basis to determine if goals and tactical plans that are developed during the performance planning conference is being successfully implemented by agents.
  • Coaching– Providing agents with feedback regarding performance on an on-going basis is critical component to a successful performance management system.
  • Performance Appraisal Conferences– Conducting a successful Performance Appraisal Conference involves effective preparation, effective implementation of the conference and appropriate followup.

It is imperative that Extension field managers take the human capital they are entrusted with and make it more valuable in the future by refusing to dedicate their time making others happy- instead  committing to making them better (Anderson, 2001).


Anderson, D. (2001). No-Nonsense Leadership: Real World Strategies To Maximize Personal & Corporate Potential. Dave Anderson Corporation.

This Article was Posted by Drs. Darrell A. Dromgoole and Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Categories: Reinforce Accountability and Interpretation, Uncategorized