A Secret Ingredient to Get Things Done

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A secret ingredient to get things done is available to everyone! So, wouldn't you like to improve the probability of getting more things done, enhance your personal growth and advance your career?

YES - OF COURSE! And, what if it didn't require any more self-discipline than you currently have - sound too good to be true? (Cue the infomercial!)

Well, a secret ingredient to get things done is natural and has some quality research done by the Association for Talent Development (formerly the American Society for Training and Development).

Below is a summary of their research.

A Secret Ingredient to Get Things Done

So, what is this SECRET INGREDIENT to get things done?


Here's how you make the Accountability Partner (AP) "secret ingredient" work for you. Pass these guidelines to the person you want for an AP. Use the same approach when you are an AP for someone. The guidelines describe the AP's role in the process so that both of you get the maximum benefit. Please review these guidelines before you recruit your AP because finding the right AP will make a difference.

Commit to your Partner and their desire to improve 

The things they choose to work on are important to them. They want, even need, your help. Research shows high performers want to improve, so your objective input is valuable to them.

Provide accurate, objective feedback

Don’t let your feelings dictate what you share (or avoid sharing). That is a big problem for most relationships, and it reduces the impact of being an AP. So, look for facts, not opinions on how you or others feel, and see their behavior and actions. Find opportunities to observe them in action as they interact with their peers, subordinates, and supervisors.

Sometimes people will not share as much with you about someone unless they know it is acceptable. So, ask your partner for a letter of permission you can give those you interview. It could be as simple as: “I am _____’s AP. They want to improve ____. Here's their OK to talk to you to see if you had any suggestions on how they could improve. What two suggestions would you give? What about them would you like to see more or less of?"

Make it reciprocal

As the AP, use this relationship to help you also; all you need to do is think of something or things you want to improve. Then give those items to your partner and ask if they would be willing to hold you accountable in return.

One of the best benefits this achieves is an environment of improvement rather than judgment. As the AP, some people come to view you as the judge or the policeman in their life. You can also use them as the "secret ingredient to get things done" in your life!

Keep it simple and short

The AP process does not need to take much time. It is easy to schedule too much time, which drives you not to want to meet and talk. Shorter time frames are easier to plan and get something done. The meeting times aren't about creating solutions to problems. It is a time to ask them if they are doing what they said they wanted to do.

Be enthusiastic and supportive

And, you are not their judge unless that is an element both of you want. Otherwise, you are not the “law” to make them do anything; you are a resource to help them.

Remember, they are free to ignore everything they say they want to improve. Their change is SOLELY their choice. When you condemn them, you create an obstacle for them to continue the relationship. I often find that when people come to the AP, even if they did not work on anything, that is good. As the AP, there is nothing wrong with asking if they are serious about change. And, if too many meetings show little or no progress, ask if it is time to stop. 

Finally, seek permission before you give advice. And make the meeting time more light and even fun. That won't happen if you see your role as the judge of their life.

A Simple Process to Use

After you choose your AP (the secret ingredient to get things done) and provide them with the above information, use the following information to start your road to improvement. Add anything that will help, but keep the administrative items to a minimum. You want to spend your time getting things done.

1. List of Items

Determine the items you will work on. Keep the list small; 3 items are good, but five is the maximum. If you get more than 5, you will have difficulty staying focused. If you recently completed a 360 survey, use two items from that survey.

2. Metrics

Develop a metric for each item. Without metrics, you have little objective evidence of progress. Creating a good measurement is often difficult. Find something because it makes a big difference in the energy you expend for improvement. Clear metrics provide a clear focus on improvement. Example: Suppose you want to work on praise and recognition of others. A metric might be the number of people you praise or recognize daily. Further details can be if you do it publicly or privately.

3. Metric Question

Create a question about the metric. After creating the metric, create a question you want your AP to ask you regularly. For example: “Did you praise and encourage at least one direct report publicly today?”

4. Schedule times to talk

Schedule a standard meeting or talk time with each other. Preferably, once per week or no less than once every two weeks for 3 to 5 minutes. The object of the meeting is about progress or status, not determining solutions for lack of progress. The power of the process is simple; you know someone will ask you about what you said you wanted to do.

Your AP asks the questions you gave them, and you ask their questions if the relationship is reciprocal. Respect your meeting time limit. Don't let the meeting time become a burden on both of you. A phone call works great, too. Face-to-face is better, even though it often takes longer—finally, set up other meetings for discussion when there is no progress.

Enjoy the process of getting more done. Try it and let me know how it worked for you.


accountability, accountability partner, career enhancement, getting things done, improve your productivity, improvement, productivity

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