Stamps or coupons are often given with your change at the checkout counter of some supermarkets. These stamps can be cashed in to get discounts on future purchases. Some of us collect these stamps to cash in on future purchases; some don’t.

In teams, we collect ‘stamps’ too.

You are at the conference table waiting for the breakfast meeting to begin. The meeting was suppose to start at 8.30 but it’s already 8.40. Mike, one of the managers chairing the meeting strolls in three minutes later. He casually apologizes without any sense of accountability or sincerity in his apology; no one says anything about it and Mike gets away scot-free..

‘Rip!’ you just collected one stamp. The voice in your head starts to protest, “Just because he’s a manager, he can come in late? He just wasted our time and no one says anything!”

Almost all of us collect these ‘stamps’. Every time someone in your team is late or misses a deadline and is not held accountable for it, you unconsciously collects these stamps. Likewise every time you break an agreement or are late, some else collects a ‘stamp’. ‘You know when this happens when the little voice inside your head goes, “What the ….”.

Back to the meeting example. A few weeks later, you have to attend another morning meeting. By now you have collected quite a few stamps already from the past few morning meetings. Always Mike or someone else comes late, and so far every one of these late comers have been let off without any accountability. On one occasion one of the manager was late by 20 minutes!

This morning you’re are having breakfast with your spouse who happens to be on leave. The both of your are enjoying the morning chat, the aroma of the coffee and the food on the table. You look at your watch and you know that you have to leave now to be in time for the meeting. Just then, that voice inside your head says, “Hold on!, “I’ve many ‘stamps’ that I’ve not cashed in, with these guys. Besides no one will say anything and I don’t need to account for my punctuality anyway.’

You look at your spouse, smile and say, “Will you like another cup of coffee honey?” ‘Ka-shing!’ you just cashed in your stamps.

Start the domino effect – find a support buddy and commit to him or her that you will be punctual for all your meetings and deadlines, etc. Then set up a reward system to reward yourself each time you keep to your commitments.

If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes. – Henry Cloud