HR Topics  Leadership Tips
Point of View: Counting on Accountability Partners
With New Years resolutions abuzz, you may be trying to remember the last time you went to the gym… Most would probably rather not say, but for those with a personal trainer, the answer is likely much more recent. That’s because most people actually go to the gym when they’ve made a commitment not just to themselves, but to another person.
This logic holds true for almost all aspects of our lives − dieting, school work, household chores and, even, career management. Having an “accountability partner” helps make the responsibility stick.
“But I already have a mentor at my job,” you might say. Different from a mentor, an accountability partner plays a specific role to help you accomplish your goals − be it to lose 15 pounds, finish a dissertation or secure a big promotion.
During a job search it is especially important to have an accountability partner you meet with regularly, in person or on the phone, to help you stay on track with your search. This is the person who helps you manage the ups and downs, who can tell the difference between your excuses and true obstacles in your career path, who can help you problem solve, and who will hold you accountable to your commitments.
As an Executive Coach, I am an accountability partner for candidates in transition. I assist transitioning executives in developing a job search plan and then work with them throughout the entire process to build momentum − from strengthening an out of date résumé to facilitating interview simulations to practicing salary negotiations. But there are other ways to work with an accountability partner besides during a job transition: ask your supervisor about leadership workshops with coaching sustainers; enlist a small group of co-workers to participate in a competency development workshop together; or tap a close colleague to keep you motivated and on track for a particular goal. Each of these options may work, but it’s up to you to proactively pursue the support.
Before you jump up to ask your best friend, next door neighbor or dog walker to be your accountability partner in 2014 consider this, your accountability partner should be someone who can challenge you, someone who will tell it to you like it is and not let you get away with too much. For me, professionally that’s often my virtual colleague Linda, or my sister Karen personally. A friend recently told me that her top three accountability partners are former bosses who’ve known her for a long time. She thought of each of them right away because they – like me, when she and I talk about our career paths – will challenge her and push her to the edge of her ideas. They won’t let her get away with just a mediocre effort.
So if the key to achieving goals is to have a plan and a partner to hold you accountable for meeting it, I have just one question. No, it’s not when was the last time you picked up those dumbbells in the closet… It’s, “Who is your accountability partner?”