Accountability Meetings

Team Accountability Sessions: How to Get Your Team in the Groove

In last week’s blog, I mentioned that one of Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood’s four qualities of a great leader is to practice accountability. But teams aren’t going to all be sitting around one computer always letting you know what they’re doing. So how do you ensure your team is actually working on a project as opposed to just saying, “Yeah, I’m working on it,” before going back to checking Facebook for the fifth time that day? The way to do this is through a team accountability session. These short meetings gather members of your team to ensure your project is on track and everyone understands their contribution to the overall project. If someone needs help, their problems aren't just left in the dust. Rather, these contributions are understood, discussed, and even tackled in the accountability session.

So How Do These Meetings Work?

Think of your usual team meetings. How much time do you spend actually paying attention or caring about other people’s contributions to the project? Do you zone out whenever something doesn’t apply to you? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of that. In undergraduate years, I could always tell which classes I was disengaged from based on how elaborate the doodles in my notebook were.

Team meetings aren’t much different from classes. If you don’t feel like you’re contributing or you don’t feel like the content will affect your end goal, you probably won’t be engaged and you won’t offer input. Team accountability sessions are different in that they are short: no time for long-winded explanations of the nuances of other people’s contributions. Instead, team accountability sessions focus on the following goals:

  • Looking over the entire project to see where the team needs to be and where they are going
  • Addressing the past week’s commitments and ensuring there aren’t any problems that need to be solved
  • Create new goals for team members based on where the project needs to go

The main difference between the traditional status meetings and team accountability sessions is that it’s active more than passive. Rather than assigning someone to solve a problem, the whole team works together. If you’ve ever solved problems working in a group, you’ll know it makes you feel like you’re in the groove. Rather than everyone rushing to leave, everyone is working hard until they get to a natural conclusion. Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood call this feeling “cadence” and describe it in the following way:

“Everybody knows what’s expected when, and how to achieve it; no one person is responsible, no one person gets the glory or takes the fall. Everybody is moving forward together; anyone who needs help gets the whole team’s support.”

-- Kogon, Blakemore, and Wood, Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager (2015)

When a team is in the groove, they’re bound to be more successful than a team just doing a job. The goal of a project manager is to initiate this sense of cadence to build team success. It may sound corny, but when people are engaged in what they’re doing, they’ll work harder, do better, and overall make the project more successful.