How to Increase Accountability

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In a recent Vistage meeting, a theme that emerged was how to better hold others accountable. People often agree in meetings to things with “their fingers crossed”, and don’t deliver on commitments. While this is the subject of many books and training programs, one quick fix is to assure that you have a “Level 5″ agreement.

James Newton, CEO of Newton Learning corporation and longtime Vistage Speaker, outlines 5 levels of agreement.  Below is a brief description of each agreement level, illustrated by a simple example of setting up a golf game.  As you read the scenarios, consider the level of agreement you have achieved in those instances where people have not delivered on commitments.

Level 1 Agreement:  No agreement at all.

Brian: “Hey Mike, what do you say we play golf after our next meeting.”

Mike: “There’s an idea.”

Level 2 Agreement:  Likes the idea, but no agreement.

Brian: “Hey Mike, let’s play golf after our next meeting.”

Mike: “Good idea!”

Level 3 Agreement: Reluctant agreement–but no commitment to do anything.

Brian: “Mike, Let’s play golf after our next meeting.”

Mike: “Man, I am really swamped, I better not.”

Brian: “Come on Mike, this will probably be our last chance before snowfall.”

Mike: “OK, I’m in.”

Level 4 Agreement:  Enthusiastic agreement–but no commitment to do anything.

Brian: “Mike, let’s play golf after our next meeting”

Mike: “Great idea! Count me in.”

Level 5 Agreement: Specific commitment of who is going to do what by when, stated by the accountable person.

Brian: “Mike, let’s play golf after our next meeting”

Mike: “Great idea!” I’m in.”

Brian: “Where do you want to play.”

Mike: “Let’s play at my club. I’ll make a tee time for after our meeting.”

Brian: “How about if we have our meeting at your club so we can tee off right after that.”

Mike: “Great, I’ll meet you at my club for our monthly one-to-one on Friday at 2:00 pm and make a tee time for 3:30 pm.”

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Accountability increases with the level of agreement.  If you are having trouble holding people accountable, push for a Level 5 Agreement, with a specific commitment to what is going to get done, by whom, and by when that is stated by the accountable person.  It may take a little longer, but it will increase accountability and execution–and will save you a lot of time in the long run.

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