A Business Butler Guide to organising and running an effective Accountability Group

Do you sometimes feel as if you procrastinate a little too often or are easily side-tracked into doing other work when you need to remain focussed on a specific task? If you do, then this is where an accountability group can help.

What is an accountability group?

An accountability group is a group of like-minded people who openly discuss and share their goals with each other and offer support and advice to help achieve those goals. The group can meet as often as you think is necessary but most accountability groups meet on a weekly basis. They discuss their goals for the week ahead, update everyone on progress made from the week before and offer advice and support to other members. Accountability groups can be created to cover a wide range of business topics from entrepreneurship to wellbeing, and much more.


Why start an accountability group?

Accountability is key. Research indicates that people are 60% more likely to achieve their goals when they share them with others. This figure increases to 90% when the goals are shared with a group and reviewed regularly. When you keep a business goal to yourself you are more likely to keep delaying it whether intentionally or otherwise. However, being held accountable by others for your actions, or lack of them, ensures you reach that goal more quickly than on your own.

Running an accountability group

Choose your group

Begin by finding like-minded people who work in a similar environment and are facing situations you can all relate to. They may be entrepreneurs who work alone, sales professionals or small business owners. Try not to make the group too large, so keeping it between six and eight members is ideal. Specific details should not be discussed in the accountability group meeting but members should be encouraged to reach out to each other after the meeting for support, idea generation or networking.


Nominate a leader

The leader coordinates the meeting, announces the start and when it is time to move on to the next round. Acting as a timekeeper it is important that these rounds do not run late or there will be a knock-on effect that dilutes the effectiveness of the meeting. The leader should remind members of the two-minute time limit and reiterate that anything other than accountability should be discussed in a follow up call or separate meeting. The leader is also responsible for arranging the next meeting and each member should get the chance to be a leader. Maybe suggest changing the leader every month if your meetings are being held weekly.


Plan the meeting

Decide on the format of the meeting. Time is precious in business as it is in life, so keep the meeting brief, between 15 and 30 minutes is perfect. Then break the meeting into three parts as follows:

Round 1 – Each member introduces themself and states up to five words that best conveys their current state of mind.

Round 2 – One by one members will announce what their goal was for last week, whether they achieved that goal and if they require any help. This should only take a couple of minutes for each member. Members can offer to help but this should not be part of the meeting and they can discuss how they intend to help in greater detail with the relevant parties after the meeting has closed.

Round 3 – Finally, each member declares their goal for the week ahead. In closing the meeting members should be encouraged to meet outside of the group to discuss all other matters.

The purpose of this format is to keep the meeting fast-paced, encouraging members to suggest ideas, offer help and target accountability. There is no time here for a deep dive into the issues facing each member but these should be addressed outside of the meeting.

Although lockdown restrictions are easing you don’t have to hold a physical meeting every week. Maybe host virtual meetings every week and a physical face to face one every month.

Ensure that goals set by members are SMART

The SMART acronym stands for:

S – Specific. Clearly state precisely what the goal is. You cannot be vague here and simply say you are going to increase sales. You need to state exactly what sales you aim to increase, for example, if you are a sports retailer you could say sales of running shoes.

M – Measurable. This is essential otherwise you won’t know when you have accomplished your goal. Therefore, following the sales example above you can either state a number of units or a total sales figure such as £5,000.

A – Achievable. There is no point in setting an unrealistic target so if you average sales of £3,000 a week then the £5,000 goal might be slightly optimistic. Challenge yourself but you don’t want to be left feeling despondent if you fail to achieve your goal. On the other hand, you don’t want to make it too easy, so finding the right balance is important.

R – Relevant. The goal should align with the overall purpose and strategy of the business.

T – Time-bound. State when you will accomplish this goal. Using our sales example, you can declare you are going to sell £5,000 worth of running shoes by the date of the next accountability group meeting.


Celebrate Success

Don’t forget to take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the group and recognise achievements, no matter how small. By doing this it helps to motivate everyone in the group, not just those who have accomplished their goals.