Template on the back of the agenda so
people can write down their action steps.
Have all action steps read back before the
meeting ends. And then stop sending sum-maries of action steps after the meeting.
Tasks are individual activities that need
to be done to complete the project. Use technology to help keep track of them. ReQall,
for example, is a free application for smartphones (iPhone, Blackberry, and Android)
that lets you keep track of your thoughts
and tasks whereever you are—even in the
car. reQall is a voice-enabled memory aid
that lets you capture your ideas, tasks and
commitments before you forget, transcribing voice memos and sending them to you
by e-mail. There are other useful apps for
tracking tasks, including It’s Done! and
Toodledo—find one that meets your specific needs and keeps you on track.
A few more tips: Write all tasks beginning with a verb. Write calls with the
name, the phone number, and the subject
(Example: “Call Bill Jones 713-456-9876
RE: New format”). Use Microsoft Outlook
or another similar software to store all
tasks; synchronize your smartphone to
your software; and prioritize your tasks
based on logic, not emotion.
MIKE SCOTT AND ASSOCIATES’
10 Fundamental Keys that
Create Total Accountability
• Use a consistent system for recording,
tracking, and prioritizing all tasks
• Create an environment where no
“surprises” are allowed.
• Conduct shorter, fewer, and more
• Stop giving or accepting excuses.
• Model total accountability.
• Never ask “why?” or “why not?”
when someone “surprises” you with
• Give and get dates and times for
completion for all delegated work.
• Don’t accept “I’ll try” or “I’ll give it
• Discontinue the employment of people
who are consistently not accountable.
And, perhaps most importantly, use
clear and effective communication.
Statistics have shown that over 50 percent of verbal communication is either not
heard, misunderstood, misinterpreted,
forgotten, ignored, or mis-stated. Get in
the habit of repearing what you’ve heard
back to the person who said it. It’s a very
efficient way of making sure that you are
both on the same page about what needs to
be done. And once you start saying things
back, you start listening in a very different
way. Do it at home, do it with your kids, do
it with your significant other, do it with
your employees and coworkers at work. If
you try this for a few weeks, you’ll start
hearing other people do it, too. Don’t ask
them to do it—just model the behavior
and you’ll be surprised at how many other
people start doing it as well. Soon it’s an
organizational practice—and everything
will run more smoothly.
Keep track of all delegated work (the
Information Transfer Form works well for
this). Agree on a date and time for completion of delegated work. Repeat or paraphrase all verbal requests.
One key is being very specific about the
delegated work. “This is what I want done.
This is when I want it done.” Not every project has a clear, predetermined deadline,
so you may need to specify a period for
research, and a set time for the person to
report back with a reasonable deadline.
DEALING WITH NON-PERFORMANCE
It is possible to eliminate excuses from
the workplace. First, you’ll need to be the
model of accountability yourself. Then,
eliminate the “surprises” of non-performance by encouraging staff to talk to you
when they first see a problem. At the same
time, encourage them to provide a viable
solution that will meet the original goal
and will meet with your approval.
When things go wrong, ask:
1. What’s your next step to get it done?
2. When are you going to do that?
3. Can I count on you for that?
If you set up an environment where
people don’t surprise you, then you won’t
have to ask these questions.
MORE TOOLS TO DOWNLOAD
All of the following (and more) are
available online at Mike Scott’s web site,
Click on the “Productivity Forms” menu item.
Information Transfer Form (ITF)
This form provides an easy way to note and
track every task and project (and associated
deadlines) that come to mind, whether it
needs to be done by you or delegated. Mike
Scott suggests bringing the ITF to all meetings
and using it, without requiring staff to use it.
After you’ve modeled this for awhile and
others get curious, give a copy to all meeting
attendees—and make sure they are clear
about how it works. Some companies print
the forms up into pads and place in all their
Meeting Agenda Template
This document includes a template for creating
an agenda, guidelines for running an efficient
and effective meeting, and Action Step form
for recording action step assignments.
Eight-Point Project Success Checklist
This is a fill-in-the-blank version of the
checklist, which can be used by managers and
project planners to make sure that nothing is
forgotten during the project planning process.
This form can be used at the start of each
project to define the project, provide a clear
statement of the benefits, identify all the
people associated with the project and their
roles, define deliverables, and plan for possible
obstacles and their solutions.
If you use Microsoft Outlook (or a similar
software program), this document may provide
some useful guidance in setting it up and using
it effectively for project management.
Print out this document with the Three Questions
to Ask When Someone Fails to Live Up to a
Commitment, and post it near your desk.
This article is drawn from
Mike Scott’s keynote presentation, “How to Raise
Revenues and Increase
Profits by Creating a Totally
Accountable Work Environment,” and “Project
Management: Eight Points to Create the
Highest Levels of Project Success” presented at
A.R.E. University April 27, 2011, in Dallas.
Contact him at 800-990-6540, e-mail mike@
mikescottandassociates.come, or online at