Accountability, Your New Best Friend
Quick: I want you to think of your best friend. The friend that you know you can say anything to and you won’t be judged. The friend who sees the potential in you that sometimes you overlook and is always coaxing out your best even when you just don’t feel very special. What sets that friend apart from the acquaintances that you interact with everyday? I’d venture to guess that if you tell your best friend that you want to do something you feel more motivated to actually DO IT.
Now, stop and ponder this:
What is your experience with being “held accountable”? Is it one of those dreaded concepts that makes you cringe and run for the nearest happy hour? Most of us have had at least one bad experience with accountability at some point in our lives, especially when it was used as a tool for condemnation or—worse—inappropriately called incentive. The good news is that accountability does NOT have to a “four letter” word….it can actually be your new best friend.
The truth is, we ALL need something or someone to be accountable to. Think of Michael Jordan for a second: would he have gone to practice every day without the encouragement of his coach? If he had no support system, no one to call him out when he slacked off, no one to challenge him, would he have been the Michael Jordan that so many stood in awe of?
When I Started Coaching
I honestly believed that I was one of the most motivated people in the world. I certainly didn’t think I needed anybody to tell me what to do. I quickly learned, however, that I was not the animal I thought I was. Through my coach training, both in being coached and in coaching my own clients, I can personally attest to the power of a well structured weekly accountability process. It is when we must stand before another person and account for our time and efforts that true success can begin to take hold.
My only regret is that I wish I would have been trained in coaching skills while I was still in Corporate America so I could have used the process with my direct reports! Little did I know then, but a 2001 study on the impact of executive coaching by Manchester Inc. showed that 77% of executives who utilized personal coaches reported better working relationships with direct reports. Imagine how much more productive—and enjoyable!—work days are when relationships improve!
If you want some facts to back up my experience, this section is for you. Fairley and Zipp’s “The Business Coaching Toolkit” quotes the following from the results of a research project performed by the American Society for Training and Development. The study related the probability of a person’s completing a goal based upon the actions they took relating to that goal. These results speak for themselves.
ACTION TAKEN/PROBABILITY OF COMPLETION
- If you hear an idea 10%
- If you consciously decide to adopt an idea 25%
- If you decide when to act on the idea 40%
- If you design a plan to act on the idea 50%
- If you commit to another person to act on the plan 65%
- If you have a specific accountability appointment with
the person to whom you made your commitment 95%
Accountability can be our best friend if we’ll just embrace it. What accountability structures do you have in place either personally or for your direct reports?