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June 25, 2012
Revisiting Resolutions: The Accountability Factor
Seems like just yesterday we were raising our glasses, counting down to one, and toasting the arrival of 2012. Along with the New Year came another timeless tradition: the resolution.

Now it’s June and 2012 is almost at mid-mark. How are your workplace resolutions coming? Typically, less than 50% of people making a resolution are actually successful in keeping it, states Professor John Norcross of University of Scranton (CNN.com). 

Why should you bother achieving resolutions? Other than increasing your confidence and augmenting your accomplishments, you also gain the trust, respect, and admiration of others. This lends heavily to your classification as a leader in your company. Furthermore, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the simple act of making a New Year's resolution sharply improves your chances of accomplishing a positive change — by a factor of 10.”

If you’ve been fortunate enough to achieve what you’ve set out to do this year, congratulations! You’re likely on your way to mid-year goals and/or reflecting on what you’ve accomplished.

If you haven’t, let’s reflect on how to get back on track. How can you bring positive change and define yourself as a leader in your organization? Perhaps it’s a resolution you may have overlooked, such as being more accountable. So first things first: what’s your accountability level? Way back in January, before making promises to yourself, how did you hold yourself accountable for achieving goals?

Accountability is critical to achieve any goal and an attribute critical to being a leader. Before jumping into making more false promises in 2012, take these steps into consideration and hold yourself accountable for accomplishing what you set out to do.

There are many ways people hold themselves accountable; some of the most prevalent include: 
  • Care about your resolution. What you’re doing can’t be a chore. Have a passion for it! Okay, so there’s the reality that perhaps there’s something on your list you’re not too thrilled about tackling. If you don’t have a passion for it, at least understand the motivation as to why you’re doing it. In your mind, if there’s no good reason for getting it done, it won’t get done.
  • Get Organized. This can be left to interpretation because no project timeline is built the same. Some visualize it on a calendar; others list it in bullets or create an intricate process map. No matter what the means, make certain you work out the project plan step-by-step in writing prior to embarking on the project. Clarifying each step needed to ultimately reach an end goal is crucial. Starting with the end won’t work without first working out the means.
  • Set and meet due dates. This is a fundamental building block of accountability. Let’s face it, though; things happen to detour resolutions (i.e., other priorities, human errors, changes in objectives, a rainy day). If you don’t meet them, reset them. Sometimes initial due dates simply can’t be met. The important point is to reset and meet the due date. 
  • Be decisive. Thinking through issues to develop smart, effective solutions is clearly wise, but belaboring the decision-making process is a deterrent to being accountable. If you’re at a crossroads, set a firm date for yourself to make a decision (and make sure it doesn’t derail your project timeline). Or, feel free to engage the guidance of a mentor or thoughts from your team or Director for a fresh perspective. Then make your decision. Above all, move forward.
  • Involve others. Sometimes you need a helping hand, but define roles clearly. At times you may need support and cheerleading  or require an extra set of hands/eyes. Whatever the need, take care not to micromanage or delegate to the point of losing ownership (i.e., accountability). 
  • Set some metrics. The term “Metrics” can be such a clinical, analytical one. Some may think it doesn’t apply to them or their goals, but you need to establish proof in order to be accountable, plain and simple. Whether it be quitting smoking (number of days without a cigarette) or being a better leader (x% of my team has rated me an excellent communicator in my recent review, an x% increase from my last review period), every resolution needs metrics behind it to show how positive change is being realized.
Accountability is critical to achieve any resolution, and should be a resolution in and of itself. It is an attribute that enables one to achieve and meet current and future goals, and if it’s not already, should be a way of life in your organization.

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Christine Stack joined the media agency MEC in 2011 as Senior Partner, Director-Talent Acquisition; in that role, she is responsible for the creation, development, and delivery of strategies to attract and retain senior-level talent at the agency across North America. She is also a key member of MEC’s Talent executive committee. 
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