Accountability: The Final Piece of the Puzzle

September 16, 2010
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How important is accountability? In most companies it is the difference between success and failure. Whenever I ask a group of carpet cleaners, “How many of you have yearly and quarter goals written down?” the answer is usually very disappointing.

Running a business without written goals is like playing football without yard markers; it just doesn’t make any sense and the ultimate outcome is difficult, at best, to determine. This is where accountability enters into the picture. As business owners, we are at the top of the food chain, and we do not have to answer to anyone, or so we’d like to think (there is of course the spousal exception, but we won’t be going there today). That said, it is important to have someone to answer to concerning the running of your business. This is what’s known as having accountability.

Have the Right Person to Hold You Accountable
Don’t ask a friend to be your accountability person; friends are too easy on us. Hire a coach if you can afford it and, if not, be accountable to someone in your organization. Very few people can be accountable to themselves, so don’t expect much success trying to do that.

The beauty of answering to someone is that you don’t want to disappoint them by not doing what you said you would. Shame is a great motivator! Meeting with the accountability person on a regular basis is critical: once a week or at least once every two weeks is mandatory for good results.

Have a Target to Hit
What are you accountable for? The beauty having to answer to someone is that you establish targets to hit. Without goals, you will merely flounder, and days, weeks and months will go by with no progress. Does that sound like something you have ever experienced? Being accountable to those targets will put the pedal to the metal and help you accomplish things.

Problems to Solve
Not only does accountability help you reach your goals, it can be a problem solver. By determining what problems reside in your business and establishing ways to fix them, you can work on them on a regular basis and have your accountability person ask you about the progress you are making in solving the issues.

Rather than sweeping them under the rug, they are in the forefront and much more likely to be resolved.

Think Big
You should be pushed to think bigger than you would on your own. The person pushing you should see the big picture and lift you up to loftier heights. We can be bogged down with daily activities and routines, unable to see the goals that are within our power to achieve. Lots of people think too small but very few think too big.

Dreams to Achieve
Your dreams are what determine your goals, and it can be a tremendous help to have someone to help dig out from your inner being what you actually want in this life. As business owners, we can be totally consumed with our work and trying to pay the bills and our dreams are snuffed out. What a pity that is! Let your dreams guide your life and your business, not the other way around.

Rewards for Success
One accountability trick I play on myself is that I reward myself for accomplishing tasks. I may treat myself to a round of golf or even a vacation for accomplishing something that I set out to do. This concept can be a motivating factor in helping you complete items that you want to get done. I use it all the time, and encourage you to utilize it and have fun with it.

SMART Goals
Your goals must be SMART, i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Time sensitive. All your goals should be able to be viewed in these vital ways. This way they can be tracked, analyzed, dissected and reviewed every meeting. There is no use in looking at your goals as SMART goals if no one is going to determine if progress is being made. Financial statements and tracking data are absolutely necessary in your business but, if nothing is done with the information, why waste all the effort obtaining them?

Clarity in the Process
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees. By having someone else to bounce ideas off of, you can see your path with greater clarity and focus. Just by having to explain what approach you are taking, you yourself may be able to better understand your plan of action. Many business owners have their strategies only in their heads and never develop a written approach for where their business is heading. Not only can this lead to failure, it can drive you nuts. By having written goals and strategies and explaining them to another person, your mind will be more at ease and your business will be far more likely to succeed.

Accountability could be the key to your success. You may know what to do but “just can’t get it done.” On the other hand, you may be wondering what direction to take your company, but you’re unsure how to chart your course. In either case, having someone to hold you accountable may be the answer to your dilemma.

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