In my last two blogs I discussed steps that, as part of your career management strategies, will help you maximize and realize your potential. Since implementation and follow-thru are key ingredients to the success of these steps, I was asked by several readers about my thoughts on accountability. What is accountability, and why do we need it. Accountability, in its simplest terms is the owning of the responsibility of our actions or lack thereof, as well as the resulting outcomes. In today’s society, accountability usually revolves around changing life behaviors such as going on a diet, or in the achievement of goals and completion of projects. In fact, project management is a great way of looking at accountability. So, what are the aspects of accountability, and how can we maximize our success in achieving our goals or desired results.

  • Desire for Accountability
    • Determine: is it more painful to stay where you are now, or do the work necessary to achieve your mission? If the pain of doing the work is greater than the pain of staying where you are, and you do not want to do what it takes, you will not be accountable.
  • Get into or form an accountability group. In the workplace this can be in the shape of department or committee meetings. For individuals in career transition, or maximizing their career opportunities, this would be in the form of groups that meet on a regularly scheduled basis. What are characteristics and components of a good accountability group?
    • Confidentiality – what is discussed in the accountability group must stay in the group, in order to create a safe environment.
    • Willingness to share and be open within the group
    • Comprised of individuals committed to achieving success
    • Comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and with diverse strengths to complement each other.
    • Willingness to be tough and demanding in the completion of commitments and achievement of goals.
    • Desire to share and celebrate the successes of milestones and realization of achievements.
  • Establish an accountability partner. While many of the components of an accountability group and accountability partner over lap, they are slightly different, and utilizing both will enhance your prospects. An accountability group offers a greater breadth of expertise and resources, an accountability partner allows for deeper support and commitment to success.
  • Determine your goals.
    • Establish your major goal, for example landing your next career position
    • Ascertain a desired timeline that is realistic to achieve success.
    • Break up the goal into different components that will help you achieve you’re your end game.
    • Break up the components into bite size milestones and tasks
  • Write down your goals with timeline – a goal in the head is unlikely to be achieved, while putting it down on paper impacts our commitment to achieving the goal and makes the realization much more likely.
  • Schedule your activity to achieve your milestones and goals. Put it in your calendar! If you are doing company research, put in your calendar when you will be doing your research. Be Specific! So often I hear people say they don’t have time to put everything into their calendar, or that they don’t want to “pin themselves down and lose their flexibility”. To put a different spin on one of John Wooden‘s quotes, failing to schedule your milestones is scheduling to fail your milestones.
  • Share the goals and milestones with the accountability group and partner. While writing down the goal greatly increases success, committing in front of others brings it to a different level all together.
  • Celebrate all your achievements big and small!

Here’s to your success in 2012! Share your thoughts on accountability, and where you have had success. I am looking forward to hearing your comments.

  1. Great timing (new year) and coaching, Greg. I saw a comment at Skirball’s “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” exhibit that captures the “desire” aspect of accountability: “Decide that you want it more than you fear it.” Powerful.

  2. Bryan buck says:

    Hi, Greg! I think that accountability is absolutely essential in taking the next step and achieving milestones while we are in career transition. The reason more people aren’t doing it is that they have become too comfortable & complacent in their “new normal.” Sadly, most of us have to come to the point of desperation before we’ll take the steps we should have taken much earlier. Most of us don’t “like” accountability, but we need it if we’re going to grow personally/professionally, achieve our milestones, and come out on the other end of transition as a “lander.” Thanks for the framework you developed above.
    Bryan Buck

  3. Nina and Bryan,

    Thank you so much for your feedback! Bryan, I agree wholeheartedly about so many people being too comfortable in their new normal, and that most of us do not like to be accountable. Thanks again for your input!

  4. Greg,
    Great article and it certainly makes sense to be accountable now before consequences happen. Do you recommend any daily logs or tracking tools to keep people on path during transition and job search? Balancing note taking and list making with doing and communicating with potential employers and colleagues is the trick. Thank you Greg for your great blog articles.

    • Michael,

      Thanks for the comment. I would say the best tool is a good calendar. Whether you do it electronically, or on a physical calendar, it is important to understand all the drains on your time. If you schedule the time in for actually doing your “to do’s” or goals, as well as scheduling all your normal daily activities, you will see how much time you actually have to work on what needs to be done, and can prioritize accordingly. It is also important to analyze at the end of the day, to see what was achieved, and modify going forward to give yourself the best result. Then share and discuss with your accountability partner and group or coach.

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