Beyond goals, let’s talk about accountability.
The start of a New Year is the traditional time to think about goals and resolutions. And surely enough, every year I have my own list. This year instead of sharing my 2016 goals, I thought I would share a key tool that has helped me maintain focus on my goals for 12 full months instead of losing sight of the big picture after a few weeks. That tool is my accountability group.
I have written briefly about this group before, but am often asked for more details. Here are some of our guidelines and how we do things to keep each other in line.
What is accountability?
Accountability is a group which I am a part of, with the goal as the name indicates of being accountable to partners about what you want to accomplish. It’s the business equivalent of an “exercise buddy.” It’s so easy to not go running if you run alone, but much harder to call your running buddy in the morning and tell her you are too tired to go – after all, she is counting on you, waiting on you, depending on you. The same philosophy applies. Telling someone what your goals are for a specific week and knowing you will have to report back next week makes it much harder to not accomplish those goals.
Who is in accountability?
We started out as a group of two, myself and a very good girlfriend who is also an entrepreneur. We then added a third, and now a fourth. We are all women, have become very close friends (although this is partly because of our accountability group, we did not all four start out as close), and all have our own business. I think 4 is the maximum that works logistically in terms of scheduling and time management.
How often do we meet?
We have an hour-long weekly conference call where we all have 15 minutes to share the status on our goals and ask for help on something if need be. We meet in person once per month for lunch (this takes the place of that week’s conference call). We usually skip the week between Christmas and New Year’s and July / August tend to be a bit more challenging given summer vacation and international travel.
What tools do we use?
We have a google document with weekly goals (one sheet per person) and higher-level annual goals. The weekly goals get updated weekly before our conference call, and our higher-level annual goals sheet gets updated once per quarter. After each of us does our 15 minute update by phone, we also use the tool of saying “I need help with XX this week.” This is a great statement to end on, it forces us to think about the hardest thing ahead of us for that week and ask for something concrete.
What’s the best thing about accountability?
The three main benefits for me have been:
- To be “forced” to do something when I really am procrastinating on it, because I don’t want to have to tell three people I didn’t do it.
- To benefit from the very regular encouragement and advice of three amazing women entrepreneurs.
- To become even closer to three women I love and admire.
What’s the most challenging thing about accountability?
The hardest thing is to actually hold us accountable. We have become so close sometimes our natural instinct is to be gentle with each other as opposed to when necessary be strong enough to actually hold ourselves accountable.
I have made my list of goals for 2016 – and I am grateful to my accountability group for the help I know it will provide in accomplishing them!