An Accountability Partnership is when two people support each other to achieve their goals by taking turns (regularly) to listen to each other figure out what they need to do and create a plan to do it.
One of the most powerful elements of the Partnership is that someone else knows what you planned to do within a time period. It is strangely influential to have a witness to how much of your plans actually pan out. The short timeframe of the Partnership is also powerful - it causes you to break down large goals into weekly or fortnightly actions. Over time, if you do not act on these, it is unavoidable to need to reflect on what is actually happening in terms of your motivation, conflicting priorities or just lack of realism in your planning.
Partners could meet weekly, or fortnightly, in-person, by phone, or online. However you meet, you need to be able to:
Listen well to each other, and keep the content of the conversation confidential
Remember what you planned and what your partner planned also (so take notes that you can both read)
Keep to a regular schedule. The routine of the regular meetings is key to the success of the Partnership helping you achieve more
Accountability Structure is one of the reasons coaching is so popular - having someone notice if you are doing what you said you would do to achieve your goals is one of the core ways that a coach helps their client to succeed. A good Coach does not judge their client for not doing their actions, they provide a space to reflect and learn so that something can change. For example, a coach might ask:
Is the action the right action, or does it need more thought?
How motivated are you to do this (action), on a scale of 1 - 10?
No one needs someone in their life to tell them off like a child for not doing their To Do List. What we all need is someone who believes we can succeed, and expects us to believe the same thing about ourselves and then act like it!
Business Owners already act powerfully with self-belief every day, so we are the perfect people to benefit from Accountability Partnerships.
A meeting of Accountability Buddies could involve 15 mins of talking each, or 30 mins, or more. What is important is that it is organised to be equal. Both people need to give and receive listening time. For this reason, do not be shy about setting a timer on your phone to track the time.
Also notice, as coaches learn, you do not need to know a great deal of detail about something to help someone make their own decisions, so as you listen, you are listening for what the person needs to think about to arrive at a decision regarding priorities and realistic action for the week/fortnight. When you first start your partnership it is worth having a meeting to understand each other’s business and larger goals, and then after that, you will discover that you learn a lot simply by being there, over an extended period of time, in each others’ life.
I have had an Accountability Buddy (that is what we call each other) for a year now. We met at a networking event and hit it off. We then met for a coffee to talk properly (it was one of those events where you keep getting interrupted by speakers and auctions). Pretty quickly into our meetings I figured we had studied the same things, had similar values and were both self-employed, so I asked her if she was interested in exchanging listening time as Accountability Buddies. Not only did she say ‘yes', she had already experienced them in the past, so it was a bonus.
We meet by phone fortnightly. We use Evernote to track our committed actions for the fortnight using a shared notebook.
We answer a set of main questions (and sometimes mix them up), in turns. Each week we swap who starts first.
A Win for the fortnight
How I went on last fortnight’s commitments
What I am committed to for the next fortnight
The Challenge I anticipate (if there is one it is useful to get this off your chest)
We tend to take about 20 mins each.
Fairly quickly, something really useful happened - we started setting goals for EVERYTHING, not just business. So, for exercise, for getting enough sleep, for seeing more of our friends. The structure actually helps with everything and creating a list of commitments that treats your life/work as integrated really helps actually integrate it.
Over the year we have also taken a day to meet in a coffee shop and do some work together - creating marketing plans for our separate businesses. This helped me enjoy something that might have ordinarily have felt a bit of a slog. It was also definitely helped by the availability of good coffee and cake. Not only did we share tips and tools, but we also got to thrash out some ideas with someone else that understood marketing, was interested our business, and was not going to tell us what to do.
Over time, if the partnership is right, you can expect to have created a trusted friend, which is great.
And, it is also OK to end the partnership without any ill-feeling. In coaching we talk about a ’no-fault divorce clause’ and you can expect the same in an Accountability Buddy. If the meetings stop happening and one person doesn’t need them anymore, it is OK to lapse into ‘just friends’ and find a new Accountability Buddy with a more ‘felt need’ for some structure to help them achieve more.
How can I find an Accountability Buddy?
You can make sure that you have ticked the field in your Member Profile that says ‘Interested in Accountability Partnership’. And, then you can use the ’search’ form in the ‘Member Browse’ area to find other people in the same timezone as you who have also ticked this. You can narrow your search to people in your geographic area if you want the option to meet in person.
And then you just need to invite them to be a friend, and maybe organise a time to chat!
I recommend being clear in your early contact about how frequently you would like to meet for, and for how long (the maximum time commitment for the meeting) as well as what type of business you run. It is also a good idea to meet for a live, or virtual coffee chat before deciding to partner up.