Blasting the Barriers to Accountability

Scheduling regular accountability meetings is an important tool for helping your people meet their business development goals and ensuring perpetual results for your firm.

To make the most of these meetings, I suggest a step-by-step process called the C.L.E.A.R. Accountability Meeting Model.

Let’s recap the first two elements of the model:

C – Clarify goals for the accountability meeting – Key question: “What’s on your mind?”

At the beginning of the meeting, have the associate or partner articulate the topics that he or she wants to discuss. Your only agenda here is to support the other person’s success.

L – Link back to prior meeting for accountability – Key question: “What has happened since our last meeting?”

This step ensures that you close the loop on whatever commitments were made in the previous meeting. This is one of the fundamental principles of accountability.

Now we’ll proceed with the remainder of the model:

E – Explore options and possibilities – Key question: “What would you like to do next?”

One of the great benefits of being in a leadership role is the opportunity to help people discover new possibilities for themselves. In this part of the conversation, your job is to quiet your mind, ask open-ended questions and listen non-judgmentally to the other person’s ideas, e.g., “Deborah, it sounds like you’ve made some good progress on building your relationship with that prospective client. What’s next?”

As you listen to the person describe the possibilities, summarize to confirm your understanding. Then, draw out more information on options by asking follow-up questions, for example:

“That’s an interesting approach. What would need to happen if you went in that direction?”
“That’s a good possibility… what’s another?”
“What are the pros and cons of that approach?”
“How does this option relate to achieving your goal?”

When you ask some people about “what’s next,” sometimes they jump right to the problems that are in the way of their progress. Part of your job is to help them stay focused on possibilities, rather than limiting options by getting stuck on why something can’t be done. Identifying what might be in the way is the next step, which we’ll explore in a separate article.

A – Accelerate progress by removing barriers – Key question: “What’s in the way?”

Sometimes people can clearly see a goal they want to reach, and they have a strong desire to reach it. However, something is stopping or blocking their progress. Accountability is all about addressing what’s not getting done.

When there’s a gap between what the person wants and the achievement of the goal, your job is to help them cross that gap. Otherwise those barriers will persist and you won’t have the perpetual business development growth that IS possible for your firm.

Let’s say the first item on Deborah’s agenda was a guilty confession: Even though she has chatted with her neighbor several times at community events, she hasn’t requested an introduction to the CFO of your firm’s target client. Here’s where you might go from there:

1) Clarify the task: How will this move you closer to the goals you’ve set? What will it accomplish?
2) Clarify the resources: What other similar conversations have you had? What preparation might you need? Whose support do you need?
3) Clarify the timeline: Realistically, when do you expect this to be completed?
4) Clarify the action plan: What will your next steps be?
5) Clarify your role: How can I best support you?

Notice that you’re leaving most of the thinking up to Deborah. You’re leaving the responsibility in her hands, though you’re certainly willing to help her think it through. You’re not criticizing or blaming or threatening. You’re not even imposing a deadline. You’re just asking good questions designed to help her anticipate and remove the barriers, thereby accelerating her forward progress.

R – Recap the conversation and confirm commitments – Key question: “What did we agree to do?”

You might be tempted to end the meeting at this point. But don’t stop there! This fifth and last step in the process is critical.

A recap is a summary of what was said, what you both committed to do, and by when. Though it may seem obvious, as you begin to use this valuable tool you’ll find that what one person says or intends to say is not necessarily what the other person hears. Often, two people in the same room won’t hear exactly the same thing. Or you’ll find that an important piece of information was left out of the notes you were taking. Or you’ll learn that upon reflection, it doesn’t sound like such a good idea after all.

The final element of an accountability meeting is to schedule the next meeting. If you don’t schedule your next meeting before leaving this meeting, it is less likely to happen. And, as you know, getting together on a regular basis is essential for accountability.

Are you looking for more structures and systems to get your accountability plan on track? Contact me for more information on how we can work together!

Alan Dobzinski is a Master Certified Coach (there are only 624 in the entire world!), America’s Accountability Expert™, Certified Corporate Meeting Facilitator and Executive Business Strategist specializing in working with Family Owned Businesses and Professional Services Firms with a full-time private practice in Baltimore, MD and Delray Beach, FL.

Alan Dobzinski has helped hundreds of clients over his 25 years of experience.  Alan works with executives, managers, and business owners who want to increase sales, productivity, and profitability worldwide by creating a culture of Motivational Accountability™.

Mr. Dobzinski writes and speaks regularly on how to increase your business profitability through Motivational Accountability™  and how to S.P.E.E.D. your way to a Better Bottom Line.  He is the author of The Buck Starts Here.  To get Alan’s free e-mail series:  “7 Strategies In 7 Minutes” from Alan’s Motivational Accountability System visit