Career Transition: Success Strategies for Accountability Partner Projects

June 20, 2011

Support Systems

Minda White RedburnMinda Redburn, MA
Lifelong Career Options
Minda is an experienced coach, career development specialist and personal counselor. Her passion is in working with people who want to make positive changes in their work lives by finding work that fits. Minda has expertise in helping her clients become aware of and work through the inner and outer obstacles that may prevent them from achieving their greatest satisfaction in their work and career.

Career Transition: Key Success Strategies for Accountability Partner Projects

Doing the Hard Stuff in Your Job Search – Part 2 (continued from last blog posting on )

Tight deadlines are your friend. The tighter you make the timeframes for reporting on your completed goals or action steps, the sooner you’ll get your work done, and the sooner you’ll be singing your way to the credit union as you deposit your first paycheck.

Baby steps really work (see Bill Murray in What About Bob?). We are easily overwhelmed by our objectives, and even some of our weekly goals and action steps, but breaking things down into smaller pieces is how you eat the proverbial elephant, and it makes them manageable. For example, you might make your goal or action step much smaller:
· I will write one solid accomplishment statement from my last job at The Energy Trust (instead of I will complete my resume). And sometimes it’s as tiny as –
· I will put Angie’s phone number in my planner so I can call her. Maybe the next day –
· I will write a script of what I plan to say to Angie and practice it with my Accountability Buddy at our next meeting.

Failure doesn’t work. If you aren’t keeping the promises you make approximately 80% of the time, what you’re doing isn’t working. Ask your Accountability Buddy to help you figure out a way to break your goals into much smaller steps, or get suggestions to help you deal with your anxiety. Bottom line: figure out how to do something different. Repeated failure is a project killer.

Criticism, scolding, and blaming don’t work either. If you partner didn’t get promised action done, you might respectfully:

· Ask them how they feel about that.
· Ask them what they learned from it.
· Ask them what they could do differently next time to get a different result.

How to Hold Meetings with your Accountability Partner
Phone Meetings:
· Check in by phone at the same time each day, five days a week.
· You are creating a support sandwich between two slices of accountability.
· Start with each person reporting on the action step they promised to take last time.
· Offer each other congratulations for kept promises, and encouragement to try again for misses.
· Ask whether your Partner wants suggestions for ways to approach the missed promise differently.
· If you miss, don’t stop – break your action step down smaller and remake your promise – or make a different promise that moves you toward your objective in a different way.
· Finish the call by exchanging a specific promise for your next goal or action step.
· Shoot for 20 minutes max so the call doesn’t drag on.
Face-to-Face Meetings:
· Schedule an hour for in-person meetings every week to 10 days.
· I recommend using your time this way:
o 20 minutes for check-in – 10 minutes each on:
– This is what I said I would do.
– This is what I did.
– If I did it – this is what I learned.
– If I didn’t – this is what I let get in the way, and/or this is what I learned.
o 20 minutes – 10 minutes for each person to debrief what happened, and to get ideas and suggestions from your Accountability Partner.
o 10 minutes – independent writing to map out new strategies and plans about what you need to do next to meet your objective. Doing this in the presence of your Accountability Partner can be surprisingly fresh and productive.
o 10 minutes – 5 minutes each for new promises for action steps or goals to be completed by the time of your next contact with your Accountability Partner.
• If you think more time would be helpful, you can add another half hour and spend more time getting support and/or doing additional writing.
Extra Credit (or Ways to up the Ante)
· Write your objective for your Accountability Partner project on a flip chart sheet or a piece of poster board and put it up in a prominent place in your house.
· On another board or sheet, list all the good things that will happen in your life when you achieve your objective. Be thorough and specific. For example, I get to stay married.
· On yet a third board or sheet, list all the bad things that will happen in your life if you don’t manage to achieve your objective. Be thorough and specific. For example, I lose my house.
· If/when you miss keeping a promise, your consequence is to read all three posters out loud to your Accountability Partner, slowly and with feeling. Do this. It works.
Once Again – Why Invite Someone to be your Accountability Partner?
Give this Accountability Partner strategy a try for a minimum of three months:
· If you aren’t making as much progress on your job search as you want to, and the you-know-what is about to hit the fan.
· If it’s hard to get moving on the steps you know you need to take to get a job, and you find yourself delaying, procrastinating, and distracting.
An Accountability Partner is an excellent antidote to the poison of the unemployment blues because:
· We all do better when we’re not going it alone. When you have someone who’s there for you, and who is depending on you for support in return, you get additional strength to keep going.
· It also feels great to have that sense of purpose and satisfaction that comes from helping out another person.
· Your goals, action steps, phone calls, and meetings give you a structure of accountability that helps you complete the tasks that will eventually lead to that new position. Every promise kept is encouraging, feels good, boosts your confidence, and moves you closer to your goal of getting the job. Why not give it a try?


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