4 Steps to Start a Career Accountability Group

I would really like to move ahead professionally. I know there are many things I could do that would help me, but I don’t know which one to do first. As a result, I’m not doing anything. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your question. I actually have three potential solutions you may want to consider.

• My first suggestion is simply to write down a list of all the things you could potentially do and just pick one. If all the items on the list are good for you, then you can’t really go too far wrong. • My second suggestion is to prioritize the list (from suggestion one) in the order of easiest to hardest. The reason for this prioritization order, rather than most important to least important, is that by doing the easy tasks first it will help you build up the momentum needed to tackle the harder and more complex items on your list. • My third suggestion is to start a Peer Accountability Group, which will be described below.

A Peer Accountability Group (PAG) is typically a group of four to six people in size who meet on an ongoing basis with the common goal of helping each other move ahead professionally. In fact, I’m a member of this type of group and have found it of great personal/professional value. Using me as the example, I’m a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) which encourages the creation of PAG groups called “Mastermind Groups”. (I know, I find the name rather silly also.) There are five of us in our Mastermind Group and we meet more-or-less monthly. Each of our meetings is about three hours long and we usually meet at someone’s home. The format of the meeting is that we each have thirty minutes dedicated to helping each individual person and thirty minutes in the middle for lunch.

During each person’s thirty minutes they ask for help on a specific business issue or new initiative they are working on and get advice from the group on how to move forward. For example, a question I had last month was asking of suggestions on how to market my new book, based on my ITworld column. Whereas everyone in the group also had books published, the conversation was not only of great value to me, but everyone picked up a great tip or two.

Where the accountability comes in is that at the end of each person’s thirty minutes, the person states two or three things that he/she learned during their meeting segment that he/she will do/implement prior to the next group meeting. These items are noted by the group and the person must report back at the next meeting as to what they did regarding these action items. This may sound a bit draconian, but it’s a great motivator to do what you said because you don’t want to disappoint your group. Life and work being what they are, everyone doesn’t always get everything done, but everyone tries their best.

The steps needed to begin a Peer Accountability Group are:

1. Find three to five people that you trust, believe could work well as a group, are willing and able to help each other, and can make the commitment to meet on an ongoing basis. (that makes four to six people including you) 2. Create a standard meeting place and schedule (ex. at the local library on the second Wednesday evening of each month) 3. Define the group’s rules (ex. each person gets thirty minutes, everyone brings a question/issue they would like to discuss, all discussions are confidential, everyone does their best to help their fellow group members) 4. Pick a time keeper to assure that everyone gets a chance to ask their question during the meeting.

Over time, as your group jells as a team, the members will feel more and more comfortable raising questions of increased importance. The questions may start out related to simple things, like “Who knows a good vendor to do X?” and in time the questions will become more complex and career centric, such as “I was offered a job with company Y, should I take it?” or “I hate my boss, any suggestions on what I should do”.

Advice on these types of questions from a group of trusted peers can help accelerate your career, grow trusted life-long relationships, and help you and the others within your group successfully navigate your professional and sometimes personal journey.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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