…..You got troubles, I’ve got ’em too
Sorry might be the hardest word, but sharing, proper accountable sharing, is one of the hardest things.
I have a confession to make.
I have done things (or not done things) in my life, that wouldn’t have been that way if I’d been held to account on.
Whether that’s sitting play on Football Manager Mobile while I’m supposed to be loading the dishwasher, or when I helped myself to a free Magnum or two when, as a sixteen year old, I was stuck on an ice cream stall on a rainy day.
There is something innate in our behaviour, when others are keeping tabs on us. (Here’s a good test to see if my wife is reading this, today).
I am now in my mid-thirties and my legs are no longer hollow, my dad-bod will confess to that. So, I recently joined some colleagues and family in using My Fitness Pal to enter food and drink intake, and to monitor nutrition and activity.
Now, I like computer games, so a points based system is something that will motivate me.
But, I also know that computer games have cheat codes and ways around things.
What keeps me accountable is not only that I will input my food and drink into a diary – it is that the diary is visible to my wife and colleagues. My wife knows what I eat at home and my colleagues know what I eat at the office.
So, unless I want to snack in the airing cupboard (hello, six-year-old me), I know that I can rely on someone keeping an eye on my intake, which in turn should benefit me in losing some lbs.
Accountability only works if there is true sharing, give and take; in classic DVCS form, these things only work if we pull and push.
At university, I attended the Christian Union, within that group we were encouraged to find ourselves peers with whom we could humbly, openly and without prejudice, share our weaknesses, listen and hold each other to account.
Without translating any faith system into any way of working, the model can be invaluable in workplace environments.
- do you ever consistently avoid certain tasks?
- do you have a vice, a website, an app that distracts you from being productive at work?
- is there a person you avoid, damaging your ability to do your job effectively?
Those are just a few things that, while I might instinctively dislike the probing. I would welcome from a trusted confidant, to help me be a better version of me at work.
So how can this be done? Are there rules?
I think the most important thing here is relationship, whoever you are accountable with, needs to be someone you trust, otherwise you won’t share with them. They also need to be on board with the concept and be willing to challenge you.
Regular catch-ups, be that phone calls, coffee/tea breaks, a time available to share – just make sure you’re in an environment where you’re comfortable to share, consider who else is around.
Agree what it is that you want to achieve, what you are talking about, you could even create a charter.
I don’t think it needs to be a colleague, or someone in situ with you. But, someone from the same domain would likely be advantageous.
Importantly, you need to know that you can say when things go beyond outside those boundaries, without judgement. The last thing you want is to start making your accountability buddy uncomfortable.
I definitely think that I could do with more accountability in my work life. I don’t mean someone watching my every move, but to have a confidant keeping me accountable would be welcome in my life and I think it would make me a better tester.