Much has been written about the benefits of having someone with whom you commit to action. ATD (Association for Training and Development) found that people are 65% more likely to meet their goal after they commit it to another person. If they meet several times with that person their success climbs to 95%. This is why trainers and workshop leaders ask you to partner up, and commit to each other to practice the skill you were just taught in the class. It really works.
If you have a mentor, that person can serve as an accountability partner as well. They will have more experience than you in a specific area. You chose them because of their success.
But what if you did not go to a class and don’t have a mentor? What if you just want to check in with someone where you both report in on your progress/success? Sort of a mutually beneficial relationship. You may find that a peer has new perspectives, best practices and may be stronger than you in a particular leadership skill. How do you find this person? Start with someone you respect and want to emulate. Approach them with the suggestion that you meet from time to time to talk business or leadership skills, or whatever the topic is. Make it clear you want to be an accountability partner to them and them for you. It has to be a win/win.
I found when I was in sales management, this worked really well because I chose someone outside my region, someone who was not a competitor for the next promotion. It was easier to open up to them and share real issues. It worked for that person too since our conversations were safe and confidential.
Tips for making the partnership work:
- Work towards a goal, knowing you have a conversation coming up soon with your accountability partner. They can motivate you to work on it and really make progress before your next conversation. You don’t want to come unprepared or having not have met your progress goal, right?
- The partner will push you to your limits- that is their role. Remember to stay open and curious as you are being pushed. Ask for suggestions if something seems too hard to do.
- Make sure you both are getting something from the relationship. It must be bidirectional. Unless of course your partner is a coach or mentor, then you are accountable to what you committed only. If a mentor, you should ask what you can do for them. Don’t assume there is nothing to benefit from in your relationship. Just ask.
- Realize you will be pushed and challenged. You must look at this like an adventure and stay open minded. You never know how something will work until you try.
You should be able to count on support from this accountability partner. Since you have set it up for confidentiality, use this person to work through things you may not want to tell your boss or others. The best part is, you will both receive and give support.