Accountability Sucks!

accountabiltyIs accountability necessary in your firm?

You may feel a need for it, but the reality is you have to have to set expectations, and provide guidelines to ensure it is implemented. I’ve had two conversations recently with senior fee earner/partners  who have had great success in the past but are now in a slump. They’ve lost their business development mojo and are having a tough time getting it back. They feel they need some help to get out of their rut and express a need to have someone light a fire under them to get things moving.

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s interesting that most times we know what we need but resist doing it. That’s probably  human nature. It’s also human nature to procrastinate.

We not only do it we justify it. “I can do that on my own.” “I don’t need big brother.” However, everyone needs help from time to time. Everyone gets in a rut but the successful person gets out of the rut as fast as possible; and sometimes with someone else’s help. It may sound like this:

“Hey, I need you to hold me accountable to do _________” or, “Make sure I __________ ” These statements are typically said with no real intended request or response, but sometimes people really do want accountability because they are serious about their goals and dreams.  You should be there to guide this process but they need to take an active role and ultimately the accountability lead should be theirs. That’s the difference between accountability and taking personal responsibility of course.  I will write more on this difference another day

As a leader in your firm, if you get asked for accountability:

  • Ask them to write/email you the goal. (Example: one new business prospect appointment per week)
  • Ask them to write/email you the recurring BEHAVIOUR to get there. (Example:  ask for one cross-referral per day)
  • Think long term. Most people assume that you’ll forget. Put it in your calendar to pop up on Monday at 9:00 a.m. to ask for or ensure receipt of the tracking.
  • Think Small. Set one goal with specific behaviours to start. Most people set too many goals and run out of discipline and focused energy.
  • Don’t stop, don’t criticise, just ask for the tracking, even if you don’t get it.

Our job as professional service firm  leaders is to guide the process and help our people be successful. Badgering not only doesn’t work, it is distasteful and harms motivation and relationships. The best thing is to provide nurturing guidance.

If it works you’ve got the right people, if not…