and get back on track when you slide
Large companies have a cadre of advisors to help executives plan and hold them accountable. Here’s how your small company can do the same thing.
“I’m going to make 10 marketing calls every week!” you promise yourself. A week passes, and you’ve made just a couple of calls. You didn’t get through to people, and you got discouraged. “Next week I’m going to redouble my effort,” you swear. But you don’t.
Marketing and selling are hard for a lot of us. We make plans, we set goals, we commit to actions, then have trouble staying on track with them. Willpower and discipline work for some, but not everybody.
Here’s an approach that may work for you. Get an Accountability Partner or Accountability Group. Work with one or more people and help each other stay on target — and to get back on track when you slip.
How to Set It Up
You need a small group of committed, like-minded people. Either 1 on 1 or up to 6. Similar level of size and sophistication in their business.
Set a regular time to meet. Once a week? Once a month? Set the day and time, e.g., “every 3rd Wednesday at 8am.”
Can be face-to-face or by phone or video conference.
Be committed. They must agree to participate almost every time and to take this process seriously.
How it works. For each person in the group:
- Set goals and action items for the next period. Also clarify your big goals, endpoint, strategy, and how you’ll measure success so that others know where you’re headed.
- Tell others. Succinct and concrete; trackable
- Execute. Before the next meeting, do it, don’t do it, or do it partly.
- Report back to others. At the next meeting, your successes, your lack of success. Your resistance.
- Discuss and get feedback on how to improve performance.
- Set goals for next period, and tell others what they are.
How to Report
Each person take turns. Needs to be brief — maybe 5 minutes.
What worked? What can you learn from your successes? How to build on that?
What didn’t work? Why didn’t they get done?
What can you learn from the things you didn’t get done? For example:
- You were too optimistic; couldn’t get it all done. Okay, how to scale back your goals to a realistic level?
- Stuff got in the way… Okay, refocus for next time. How to minimize distractions. Is this a one-time distraction, or does stuff always happen?
- Others didn’t do their part. Okay, can they be reliable in the future? Or, how can you find reliable people? Or, how can you succeed despite their unreliability? (In the longer run, why would you continue to rely on unreliable people?)
- Distractions, interruptions. The urgent overwhelmed the important. Okay, how can you change your priorities, your habitual response, your schedule, your systems and procedures to improve this situation, so that you stay focused? Who do you need to bring on board to support you in this? (Kids, spouse, employees, boss, customers, etc.) Are there “energy vampires” in your life that you need to set boundaries with?
- Resistance. A part of you just doesn’t want to do what you said. Okay, how can you bring the process of your resistance into consciousness, and describe it, so that its hold on you diminishes? (It may never disappear.) What is your regimen for working on yourself? What help, or what systems and procedures, would help you through your resistance?
- You changed direction. You changed a goal. Great, that’s fine. What’s your new goal? BUT, watch out for constant goal changes.
Who’s in your accountability group?
These partners must be hard-headed. You must give them permission to hold your feet to the fire, and to point out your contradictions and negative patterns. They must be clear, firm, nonjudgmental, and consistent. You must be willing to hear them, and not blather them down. “You said you were going to do A, and you didn’t get it done. What happened? No, don’t mtell us about B; stick to A. All right, thanks. Now, be quiet and listen.”
But you don’t want slammers and blamers, either. Constructive, hard-headed feedback.
Beware of co-dependence: “I won’t call you on your game if you don’t call me on mine.” “Whatever you get done is fine with me — I’ll compliment you regardless.” Co-dependence in an accountability group is a waste of your precious time. Don’t do it and don’t tolerate it.
Listen to yourself. When a group of people does this accountability process with each other, you often notice that the advice you give others is exactly what you need to hear yourself. “I told you to close your door to keep out interruptions, but that’s what I need to do also.” You’ll see patterns emerge, in your behavior and others, that can help you work smarter. Be aware of how you self-sabotage and how that limits your business. Don’t make excuses.
Peer pressure works. For many people, knowing they will have to report to others makes it much more likely they will achieve their goals. “No way was I going to show up at that meeting and admit I didn’t do what I promised. I was up till 2am getting my marketing flyer drafted.”
Take pride in your wins and celebrate your successes. Share tangible rewards. Pizza, champagne, chocolate, flowers all do nicely. “I made 11 calls, got through to 3, and got one new client! High fives!”
How many people? Could be 1 on 1. In my experience, 4 to 6 is best for an informal group. (My groups are larger because I am the paid facilitator.)
One more thing: People often take this process more seriously if they are paying for it. The more it hits their wallet, the better results they get from it. In my groups, people must pay whether they attend the meeting or not. (I’m biased because this is my day job.)
If you’d like more details on how to set up and run an accountability and problem solving group, ask me in the comments. Leave your name and email. I can send you “How to find or form an accountability group.”