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The 48/24: A Tool for Accountability Meeting Success

One of my executive coaching clients had successfully instituted regularly scheduled accountability meetings, but was struggling to keep track of all the details he discussed with his team members.

That’s when I introduced him to the Accountability Meeting Binder – one binder (or section of a binder) that you turn into a handy place to store everything from a person’s job description to a list of actions that person has committed to take. You each have a copy of this binder.

So now he had a place to store all these records, but there was still a missing piece. How could he effectively track the results of the meeting and stay current from one meeting to the next?

The 48

Here’s what you do: Within 48 hours following the accountability meeting, have your direct report send you a recap email of what you discussed. If the person has taken good notes during the conversation, this process shouldn’t take more than about five minutes. (Those who enjoy writing memos may choose to take longer!)

The length of the email is immaterial. It’s the act of writing it and sending it to you, the leader, that increases accountability. Whether in long paragraphs or short bullet-points, the 48 email will include these items:

1. Play back:

  • Whatever was discussed and decided, including short-term goals, long-term plans and priorities
  • Any insights, breakthroughs and solutions that were uncovered
  • Anything else worth noting

2. Play forward:

  • What the employee will accomplish between now and the next accountability meeting
  • Specific action plans: what, how and by when

3. Questions:

  • Any questions that were raised in the meeting but left unanswered
  • Additional questions or concerns that may have emerged after the accountability meeting

4. “Parking Lot”:

  • Items to deal with at a future date

This approach has a multi-level benefit: During the meeting, the person being coached pays extra close attention to what they’re saying so he or she can recap. Making a verbal commitment is one level of accountability.

Secondly, that person takes notes so they will be able to accurately summarize what happened, further solidifying the details and making another level of commitment. The simple act of writing things down helps hold people accountable.

Finally, the act of sending that recap to you, the leader, is a third level of commitment and reinforces the accountability to complete the planned actions.

Once someone has completed all three steps, it’s almost impossible for him or her to say, “Whoops, I forgot.” Or, “Whoops, I didn’t understand you.”

The 24

24 hours before the next scheduled meeting, request that the person email you an agenda for the upcoming meeting. The 24 report has two primary parts:

1. Play back:

  • What was accomplished since the last session, and what was not accomplished?
  • If projects were delayed, what were some of the blocks or challenges? (This is not about making excuses; it’s a step toward uncovering problems and discussing next steps in the upcoming meeting.)

2.       Play forward:

  • What would the person like to talk about in the upcoming accountability meeting?
  • Where is the person stuck? In what areas does he or she need help? What challenges and opportunities are available now?

When you begin meeting with your people on a regular basis, the entire team will experience increased activity, productivity, effectiveness and morale. When you make regularly scheduled accountability meetings “just the way we do things around here,” accountability is the result.

While most of my clients use the 48/24 system, it’s not essential. It’s a choice each CEO, leader or managing partner can make, along with his or her team members. But after 17 years, I can tell you unequivocally that those who take the time to use this technique derive more benefit from their accountability meetings, and are more likely to achieve their desired goals faster and less painfully. They realize less stress, more time and a better bottom line.

Do you want to have more efficient and productive accountability meetings with your team? Alan M. Dobzinski is a masterful meeting facilitator and can help you implement the 48/24 technique and other strategies for accountability success. Contact him today to find out more.