How do you increase the likelihood that your program participants are going to put the content from your session into practice after they leave the room?

There are a number of components that come into play such as language and microreflections – those will be the subject of future posts –  in this post we’ll focus on another component, that of accountability buddies. 

This is not a new concept. In fact, 12 years ago the Association for Talent Development (ATD) did a study on those making commitments both with and without accountability partners. They found that just telling someone about a commitment doubled their likelihood of putting that concept into practice, compared to those who did not have an accountability partner.

The Value of Accountability Buddies

The Actionable platform is designed to help individuals establish behavior change, which then enables observable business impact. Over the last three years, we’ve collected close to half a million data points around various elements of behavior change. 

One area we’re particularly focused on is the role that support systems play in helping participants put concepts they have learned into practice – and stick with those commitments. Naturally, I was curious as to what the impact was of having an accountability partner within the Actionable system. 

Have a look at the image below. 

Looking at the impact a buddy has – those that chose to have a buddy (and, in the Actionable platform most do) realized a 70% improvement in the habit they were working on. Compare that to the 27.5% improvement experienced by those that did not have an accountability partner. We’re seeing very similar data to what the ATD study found 12 years ago.

How Accountability Buddies Impact Behavior Change

Going a level deeper, if we know it’s beneficial to have an accountability partner, it then begs the question, what is that accountability partner doing? How engaged are they in the change process? How many times is the buddy interacting with the person who made the commitment? How many times are they checking in to see how they are doing, offering words of encouragement or support? 

The answer is what you see on the graph below.

We know from the previous graph that those who had an accountability buddy saw a 70% improvement in the habit they were working on. Within that group, we then wanted to look at how the number of check-ins directly influenced the amount of change realized over a normalized 30 day period. Those who had a buddy engage with them 0-1 times had a 63% average rating change (an improvement in the habit they were working on). When the number of buddy interactions increased to 2 or 3 so too did the average rating change, increasing to 97.5% for those who had a buddy check in with them 3 times. The data clearly shows the more times a buddy interacts with the individual, the more change they will realize.

As a facilitator you can use this data to encourage higher levels of adoption after your programs. A best practice is to encourage participants to have a weekly touchpoint with their accountability partner, to share their progress to date and receive feedback from their partner. 

You can use a platform like Actionable to make this more automated, with greater visibility to those involved as well. 

If your focus is on behavior change and helping your participants put concepts into practice give accountability partners a try and watch the substantial improvements in the behaviors they are committing to.

Actionable is on a mission to help boutique consultancies scale their business by giving them the tools to prove and amplify their impact.

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