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How to Create a Highly Engaged Accountability Group

Group coaching, Guides | September 5th, 2022

accountability group

Accountability groups are excellent tools for coaches and course creators to increase client success rates, but if you’ve ever tried to run one, you know that making them effective can be tricky.

First, accountability groups only work if everyone is actively engaged. If even one member becomes disengaged, they can quickly fall apart.

In addition, if participants are at different skill levels, it doesn’t work as well because the more advanced members will receive disproportionately less value.  

To help you navigate these challenges, this post provides step-by-step instructions to create and scale successful accountability groups. 

The Benefits of An Accountability Group

You’ve probably experienced the frustrating phenomenon where clients sign up for your program and then never complete it.

This was a key challenge that upcoach founder David Henzel faced when creating his course Managing Happiness. He created the course to change people’s lives, yet only about 7% of clients completed the course. 

To solve this problem, he began incorporating weekly accountability calls over Zoom, and his completion rate soared to 94%. Clients also began raving about the course’s impact on their lives, and he felt more fulfilled as a coach/course creator.

To scale his impact, David eventually began using alums to run the accountability groups. This way, he didn’t have to be on every call which enabled the program to scale, but clients could still receive the same benefit. 

How to Run an Accountability Group

Whether you’re starting your first accountability group or working on improving an existing group, below we’ll outline a proven process to help you avoid common pitfalls and create a successful accountability group.

Group The Members By Experience Levels

A key reason accountability groups fall apart is that some members are much more experienced than others and therefore receive less value from the group. Sure, the advanced members still feel some peer pressure to achieve their goals, but it’s not as strong as if it came from a group of people they regard as peers.  

In addition, grouping people with different experience levels means they’re probably tasks, making it harder for members to relate to one another. 

For example, let’s say you have an accountability weight loss group for men. 

Even though the main goal for everyone is the same (weight loss), the challenges each person faces are more nuanced. For example, a person who wants to lose five pounds might be using more advanced methods like carb cycling, whereas a person trying to lose 50 pounds probably just needs to build a healthier foundation (swapping out pizza for a salad). 

Ask Them to Put Skin in The Game

The main indicator of your accountability group’s success is your members’ investment. If your members are wholeheartedly invested and show up to each meeting with their full attention, there’s a good chance it will be successful.

However, if some of your members disengage, the entire group can fall apart.

So before accepting new members, be sure they put some skin in the game. For example, this could be paying a significant sum of money to join, or it could be something like placing a wager on a website like Stickk where they get the money back if they complete the challenge.

Once members see how committed the rest of the group is, they will feel positive peer pressure to push through any challenges and give 100% to the mastermind group.

Establish SMART Goals and Build a Roadmap

We already alluded above that everyone should be working towards the same general goal, but each person’s specific goal is probably slightly different.  

For example, if it’s an accountability group for entrepreneurs, they may all want to grow their businesses. However, each person probably has a different specific goal (e.g., acquire 30 new customers, hire a VP of marketing, etc.). 

So at the beginning of the engagement, have everyone perform their own goal-setting exercises and define a SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timebound) goal. Then, they can work backward from the end goal to create weekly task lists and habits.

Of course, if you already have an online course or program that clients are following, you can suggest the goals you’ve already outlined for them

Create a Weekly Meeting Routine

Now that your members have a north star to work towards, establish a weekly meeting cadence. You can host your weekly check-in either in person or over Zoom, though we’ve found that purely chatting asynchronously over a forum or app isn’t as effective of an accountability tool. 

If you can’t personally host the accountability meetings, you can always have a program alum or assistant coach run them for you. 

While creating and scheduling accountability meetings might seem like a nightmare, our platform upcoach makes it super easy. Simply add the members for each group, and they can use the chat feature and private discussion forum to communicate during the week. upcoach also enables you to add a meeting link, so members can either add it to their calendar or attend by accessing it from the upcoach dashboard. 

Once you’re on the call, you can use this general structure:

  1. Each person rates their status in various focus areas (like health, wealth, or relationships) on a scale of 1-5.
  2. Each person discusses their habits and task progress of the week
  3. The rest of the group chips in with support and advice when requested to remove key obstacles from the week. 

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to use an assistant coach or facilitator to run these conversations if you’d prefer to focus on scaling your impact. 

However, it’s important to establish that these meetings are confidential and nothing said inside of them should be repeated elsewhere. Creating a safe place for people to discuss challenges encourages them to open up and be vulnerable, which makes the entire group more valuable for everyone.

If members don’t feel comfortable sharing, they probably won’t discuss the real challenges they are facing and therefore won’t be able to solve them. 

Establish Tasks and Daily Habits 

Given that the point of an accountability partner is to help people take action, the most important action item is to establish tasks and habits for the coming week at the end of each session. 

During the next week, members should mark off their tasks and habits daily so that during the next accountability meeting, they can assess which days got off track and uncover the root cause of the issue. 

When David was building Managing Happiness, he found that there wasn’t really a single platform that enabled him to provide content, assign tasks, and track habits in one place. 

That’s why he created upcoach. 

With upcoach, you can assign tasks, track habits, provide content, and communicate with members directly inside the platform.

Inside the upcoach platform, members can view each others’ daily progress, which adds another level of positive peer pressure and encourages them to push through challenging situations. 

Full visibility into other members’ progress also makes it super easy to run efficient accountability meetings as everyone can see, at a glance, where each member got stuck.

Selecting a Tool to Run Efficient Accountability Groups

While it’s certainly possible to run an accountability group with Zoom and Google Docs to track progress, it will probably become messy and inefficient.

So if you want an all-in-one tool that makes it easy to run accountability meetings and track member progress, consider using a tool like upcoach.

This way, you have a single platform that enables you to do all of the following:

  • Create tasks
  • Track habits
  • Store content
  • Create worksheets
  • Schedule meetings
  • Chat with members

Members also love it because they can easily find everything they need in one place, and they only need to remember a single password.

By making it an excellent experience for members, they are much more likely to stay engaged with your program and achieve the results they set out to achieve.
To see for yourself if upcoach is the right platform to host your accountability groups, schedule a demo or try it out risk free today.

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Megan writes content for SaaS companies and digital marketing agencies to increase traffic and conversions. She's worked with brands like Chatfuel, Single Grain, Copyblogger, and others and have also been featured in leading publications like the Content Marketing Institute.