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Tough on Accountability Without Shaming

Join us as Nettie Owens of Sappari Solutions explains her process for being tough on accountability while still creating space for her clients to come as they are. Through a specific process for each tier of client, Nettie helps her clients do one of two things:

  • Blast through their goals by keeping them on track
  • Assess new goals if there is something getting in their way

If you prefer the audio version, listen here:

How Do You Hold People Accountable Without Making Them Feel Terrible?

Ruthie: So in your Momentum Accountability Program, there’s emphasis on tracking action and being held accountable. You also mentioned that there are coaches who give a ton of homework, making their clients feel stressed out.

How do you balance holding people accountable without making them feel terrible for not getting things done? 

Show Up As You Are

Nettie: I have a process around it. First and foremost I ask people to show up. Show up if you got the work done, and show up if you didn’t get the work done. No matter what, you’re going to learn something from it. 

If you didn’t get the work done, let’s look at it. Is your schedule too full? Is it the wrong work? Are you ill? Should you be doing something else? Do you need a break? There’s a lot we can learn, understand, and properly set you up for success. So I just constantly ask questions about what’s going on. 

For my upper-level clients, I literally check in with them on a daily basis. What are you focusing on today? What support do you need? What’s coming up for you? How did this project go yesterday? We’re just constantly talking about it. 

On a monthly basis, everybody that I work with reviews and reflects on what they’ve done. We look at both the personal and business aspect, and we analyze what worked and what didn’t. After that, we envision the next 30 days. 

Beyond that, we look at what we learned from that whole experience of reflection, what we’re going to bring into our current reality, how we’re going to move forward, and what might get in the way of our creative process. I try to make this easy to follow. I have a planner with no dates on it, but we follow this same exact process. 

Growth Mindset Vs. Fixed Mindset

Psychologist Carol Dweck talks about a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. It’s gotten a lot of attention in many different circles, so you can easily google it and look for more information.

But this really falls into that growth mindset of always seeing every experience as a learning opportunity. I think that’s why people often fall short of their and their coach’s expectations.

You have people who are visionary, constantly thinking of new ideas and creative ways to solve problems, and then you put them in a box. You tell them, “Ok but all I need you to do is check these things off.”

But we need to toss that to-do list and offer them a place to be able to explore these ideas. Does this one help me move towards my vision? Should I continue on this path? Should I change direction? Is this just a squirrel that’s diverting my attention, or is it worth exploring further? So there’s got to be a constant conversation and curiosity around what you’re doing. 


After that, the accountability is simply showing up to continue that conversation, and see where it takes you. If you don’t have somebody to be accountable to, then grab the planner. Use that as a way to ask those questions to yourself. 

Ruthie: Maybe that’s my problem. I don’t have anybody holding me accountable. It’s just me. 

What Has Allowed You to Stand out?

Ruthie: You’ve been successful in at least 2 businesses now. What do you think has made you such a successful coach in an industry where so many coaches are struggling to stand out? What do you think has allowed you to shine the way that you do? 

Nettie: Thank you! I don’t always realize that I’m standing out, so that’s awesome. I think it goes back to my work as a professional organizer and why what we were doing worked. 

Understanding Their Perspective

When I would hire new organizers, I would ask them this very specific question. I would say, “Look, you’ve just walked into the home of a potential client. I just want you to tell me what you see.” A large number of people would tell me the house was a mess. There were piles of laundry, there was stuff everywhere. They would describe the space.

The people that I hired talked to me about the person. They said there’s a person who feels really overwhelmed. They’re trying to figure it out, they want to change and they just don’t knowhow. So if you passed that litmus test of distinguishing the project from the person, then I would consider you. 

There’s a Coach For Everyone

Before I say anything else, I want to emphasize there’s someone for everyone. Even my flavor may not be the right flavor for you. But I think the same is true here.

I see that a lot of coaches are really amazing at creating plans, they’re very meticulous and strategic, but they don’t know what their clients are thinking. They don’t understand how to bring them along in the process. They don’t see that person standing in the room, feeling really overwhelmed and wanting somebody to see them. 

I had a recent client of mine say that she’d worked with other coaches before, and in working with me was the first time that she felt seen. That really touched me as a coach and as a human being, because that should always be the first step; to know and understand the person sitting in front of you and what they’re struggling with. From there, you can see if you would even be the right person to help them solve that particular problem.

I think that the “person first” mentality has helped me to stand out. 

And I also really do care about each of the people I’m working with. I feel like it comes across in how I speak to my audience. Folks who work with me know that you’re not gonna escape! They know that if they disappear, I’m like, “Hey, I noticed you’re not telling me what’s going on. Is everything okay? It’s ok if we’re not working together. I just want to know that you’re ok, and that you’re getting what you need.” 

Do You Have Any Resources Available on Your Website?

Ruthie: I’m kind of like wondering, “Hmm, how can I get a slice of the Netty pie?” So is that planner something that you sell on your website?

Nettie: Yes! I need a better method to do that. If you are interested, just reach out to me and ask about it. I don’t have a fabulous sales page for that; it’s kind of in the works. 

Ruthie: Do you currently have any other downloadables on your website? Anything that anybody could use to get to know you and your process a bit better. I mean, I’m already going to be digging through your website some more anyway. 

Nettie: I have a catchword that you can use to get something valuable instantly. Basically, you text the word “freedom” to the number 411321. When you do that, you get my ebook “The Roadmap to Freedom”. It talks about how to understand your mission, who you are in your business, set up systems, time management, organization, etc.

And once you do that, there’s an invitation to have a conversation with me and explore whatever you’ve got going on. I’m happy to hop on the phone and talk to you about that. That’s the easiest way to get in touch with me and to get something that you can use right away. 

Ruthie: That’s fantastic! I think you’re the first person I’ve met who has called it a catchword. I wasn’t sure where that was going if I’m being honest. 

Nettie: Yeah, it’s a cool thing. It’s a great way to provide some instant, real value to your ideal clients in a way that’s not spammy. I know we’re all afraid of giving out our emails and phone numbers, but this is a really good way to reach your ideal customer. So I would encourage you guys to check it out.