As I have mentioned in previous post on The Growth Academy blog, I have always been quite fortunate while running my own business in the respect that I have always had a mentor or a non-exec director to whom I was Accountable. I suspect that I wouldn’t have achieved some of the things that I did achieve without their support and nudging and there is no doubt that I learnt a huge amount from them. I am often asked why did you need them? Surely you can be focussed and driven enough to negate the need for such people in your business? In theory we should be able to self-manage and show enough discipline but if we are all honest with ourselves, do we?
How many of us always manage to find something else to do? and how many of us just blatantly avoid doing the task we just don’t enjoy? From conversations I have been having these past couple of weeks I reckon the answer is too many, myself included!
The Growth Academy sessions which I run (details at www.thegrowthacademy.com) focus very closely on Inspiration, Education and Accountability and a survey of the attendees last week showed that more than three quarters of them see the Accountability element as the main reason for attending. This was initially a surprise for me, but not once I thought about it more closely.
I then went off and spoken to four of my Twitter friends today and they all had similar thoughts, although they were from slightly different angles.
Thor Holt is a personal fitness trainer who works with busy execs who tend to struggle to find the time to work-out. He says “Accountability is a big thing for these guys, they successfully manage their work loads and businesses but when it comes to the fitness side of things having someone to report back on their progress to is a big plus. It removes their ability to use easy excuses for not achieving what they committed to doing.”
I would draw parallels between working out and business development – both tend to be activities which a lot of people need to undertake but really don’t enjoy. I can see why the accountability offered by Thor would be an advantage, for these people who are used to achieving and succeeding in their personal lives but don’t enjoy the exercise side of things.
Kevin Ashcroft has seen both sides of the coin. He has benefited from being accountable to mentors in the past and he is now acting in that role for a new start company. “One thing that I have found that works, is creating visibility of what you want to achieve, the more people who know what you are aiming to do the more likely you are to push that little bit harder to get it done.” On hearing him say that I had this realisation that I have been doing that sub-conciously for a while now! It works!
Leaving himself voice-mails while out and about is one technique that works for Keith McMean and helps him being accountable to himself. “The buck pretty much stops with me, so I have to try and ensure that I set myself goals and targets all the time and record carefully what needs done, and then just do it.” I think there are comparisons here with what Kevin was saying about visibility, and whether the outstanding tasks are visible to you, your peers or a mentor, the fact that they are visible helps make sure they get done. Colin Gilchrist and Angela Patterson both said similar things in this previous blog on “Best Business Advice Ever Received”
What if there are two of you running the company? The guys at Burn It Boot Camp have split the responsibilities between them and in effect are accountable to each other. John told me “We are still learning as we are a new business but having each other to report progress into has been a great help, we speak almost daily and have regular meetings to ensure that we are doing what we have committed to.”
Not many people like doing the Business Development activity, even some sales people dislike it but if you are running your own business it is a necessary evil. If you are one of these people try and find a mechanism to become accountable for it. I feel that visibility is the key, tell someone what you are planning to do and then you are more likely to find that extra effort to get there.