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Updates from the Blog

Group coaching beats 1-on-1 for accountability

Group accountabilityI’ve been thinking a lot about why accountability is so effective in groups.  I think the number one reason is that we care what others think of us.

We are social animals, and it matters to us what our status is in our “tribe.”  But there is a hierarchy of how much we care what others think, depending on who the others are and how well we know them.

We feel more accountable to people when we know them better, and also when they are more like us.  Being held accountable by someone with more “status” than us can start to feel like an exercise in being ashamed.  Sometimes it’s hard when you are the coach, to draw that fine line between, “I understand; you had a tough week” and “What excuse do you have this time?”

So let me sum this up.  Groups work for accountability better than individual coaching because:

  • We are social animals and we care what others think.
  • The more people who are paying attention to what we’re working on, the more powerful the accountability is.
  • There is no power imbalance among group members, so they are freer to question excuses.
  • Other group members are in the trenches with you, so have a more immediate understanding of the struggles
  • Each member becomes quite familiar with each others’ activities and goals, so there are more eyes on each person.  This multiplies the accountability effect.
  • Members grow to care how the others are doing, which make the accountability much strong.
  • Peer pressure and peer modeling is more powerful than just coach pressure and modeling, again because they are peers.

Groups still need leaders, so I’m not saying coaches are irrelevant!  But in planning your own practice or coaching business, keep in mind the power of groups in keeping your clients accountable and in helping them achieve.  They are cost effective, and they work! You can bring in more clients and impact more people.

What are your experiences with keeping people accountable in individual coaching and in groups?  What works and what doesn’t?


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Facebook Groups don’t work for accountability

I often see coaches and trainers claim that accountability is a major focus in their groups or classes.

But when I look at what kind of accountability methods they are using, I’m never impressed.

The most common claim is: “In my program, you will be held accountable in our special Facebook Group.”

Unless you run a tiny group and you are ultra diligent, your Facebook Group will not make your clients feel accountable at all!

In a Facebook Group, the members don’t think, “Oh, I’d better do that thing today, because someone will notice if I don’t.” I don’t know about you, but when I know that nobody will notice I haven’t done something, I’m less likely to do it.

To keep them feeling accountable, you may create a post asking people to post what they’ve accomplished. BUT, a very small percent will post anything in response.

How does the coach remember each person’s commitment and goals?

If people do post their progress, it’s not easy for you to remember what they committed to do in the first place.  This is important, because people tend to drift and not stick to the more difficult actions that they want to consistently do.

In order to hold someone truly accountable, you need to constantly have their goal in mind, and the specific actions they committed to taking.

The other group members will certainly not remember, so their support of that person will be hit or miss.

There’s no way for group members to visually track their progress.  The awareness that they can’t keep track and neither can anyone else, makes it feel like nobody cares.

What if some group members dominate the airwaves?

A common problem in Facebook groups is that the people with the most “wins” dominate the posts. It is rare, although usually quite welcome, that somebody opens up about their struggles and failures in a Facebook Group.
I’ve been in countless private Facebook groups that were especially set up for a course or coaching program. They were helpful and fun, but they were very poor at accountability. Heck, I’ve run accountability groups on my Academic Ladder Blog, and I got a couple dozen sign ups, but no follow through!

To summarize what makes real accountability almost impossible to achieve in a Facebook group:

  • It lacks an easy way for the coach to track each client’s actions, connect them with their commitments, and comment or keep them accountable.
  • It also doesn’t have an easy way for group members to do the same, so they have a harder time supporting their peers
  • It doesn’t have a visual system for tracking their progress
  • Facebook groups are dominated by the people doing well. It’s not a system where it is easy to be vulnerable and open about problems.


What’s your opinion about Facebook Groups and how well they work for accountability?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Weekly Accountability is a Weak Technique

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