How can we keep Reps accountable?

From our last meeting, we have the following notes to answer the following question: How can we keep Reps accountable?

We need your help to answer this question. We would really appreciate your feedback and ideas!

  • Depends on the different tracks
  • Resources will have their own
  • Not sure about Leadership
  • What could we do in general?
  • Half-yearly meetings with your mentor/coach to set goals
  • During the quarters the coach is there for questions
  • There can be quarterly meetings with the mentor/coach where the goals are reviewed and if necessary changed according to that (optional)
  • This means that every second quarterly meeting will be about new goals, with the other one being a milestone review
  • The goals could be anything Mozilla-related, doesn’t necessarily have to be Reps
  • We can use the OKR framework for this
  • This requires a tighter mentee/mentor/coachee/coach interaction, we should get that by the changes in RepsNext

Feel free to reach out here if anything from these notes is not clear enough to give feedback or ideas on!


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I was always convinced that it’s hard to put accountability into volunteer programs in a useful way. I think we really want people to contribute (even as Reps) because “it’s fun” and not because they “have to meet some goals”. Putting pressure on volunteers feels like pushing them out of volunteering and making a “must” out of a “want”.
I see where we are coming from by wanting to put goals on the program and on individuals, and on wanting something measurable out of the program, but for me, any time you put the pressure of “you have to meet this” (no matter if those goals and self-set or not) on any activity, it doesn’t feel like a fun hobby-like activity any more, it feels like a job, just without getting paid for it.


I think that a rep is a volunteer with new stuff to do because they are required from that role, It is not a simple volunteer.
So if a volunteer became a Rep he know that he have to do some annoying stuff like reporting, in this way he became accountable.

If it is a simple volunteer why exist this role? We are representative and as the name explain means that we have some skills that we use to help the community so we have goals as recruiting or mentorship.
I think that we have many rep that applied only to go an another level respect to other volunteers. If the reps are accountable and volunteers we should get a big participation on the WGs and this discussions.

So I think that accountability is based about the means of that role so the reporting that became a mandatory stuff every months will be the best solutions with the other things written by Michael.

As I saw in the Take back the web campaign from the team and me as local coach the accountable exist. To be part of the campaign they have to fill every week a report and chat/meeting with me about the status and they are new volunteer or FSA but because they know that they are apart a big plan they have to share their updates.

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Well, if you make it forced and no fun then people just won’t do much, because they want to do this for fun, not for unpaid pressure.
Gamification would work nicely at least to some degree as it joins in with “fun”. Pressure doesn’t.

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Sure pressure it is not ideal but if we improve the recognition the reps accept that task.
Because actually there is no reason to fill the activity report but with specific rewards the people accept this. An example can be show that activities on the mozillians profile or gadgets.

Yes, if there are positive incentives, that’s fine - I guess what I want to say is that in the typical carrot & stick model, the big difference is that for unpaid people, it’s not a good idea to use the stick (too much), you basically need to be all carrots (you don’t have the huge carrot called “money” or “making a living” that would compensate the use of the stick).

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But why? If there is a good reason to do these “annoying” things and they help the Rep be more successful, then why would they find it so annoying and why would we need to give any incentive other than explaining the benefits derived from doing the annoying thing?

Well the difference between a simple volunteer and a Rep isn’t “you have to fill out annoying paperwork” either, otherwise why have the role?

The difference also isn’t Reps do what they say they will do and other volunteers don’t have to.

Also, on the topic of accountability in the program itself, I think it’s important that it has to be top down anyway. If a Rep doesn’t fill out a report it doesn’t affect the program to the same degree as council members not attending meetings or voting. If council is accountable, then they are holding mentors accountable and they are holding Reps accountable. Reps being more accountable doesn’t trickle back up and make a lax mentor more accountable.

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There is a discussion about Recognition so I few combine accountable with recognition a Rep accept to do the annoying part.
I say annoying because compile report is always a boring step but it is important to check the progress.

Bingo and inside their task there is the reporting!

Actually we have many rep that report only the events (because they receive a reminder) and the activity and this affect the program, this is one of the reason of the RepsNext plan.

For the mentors there is a proposal and in this thread is proposed to have quarterly meeting between the mentor and rep to improve the accountability.
The mentors in many case don’t follow up their mentee but only this it is not enough for the accountability we need that the rep is an autonomous volunteer that remember to fill the reports.
If every mentor have to remember it is not an optimal solution but the mentor need to follow the mentee else this only a coach initially.

I agree that this is a valuable solution. But there are two open questions for this where I’d like to get your feedback on as well:

  • How can we keep someone accountable? Just being accountable to someone in theory doesn’t seem enough to me. What are mechanisms or processes that would help us here?
  • I see Reps as a program to empower the local community. In that sense I also see being Rep as a role which comes with certain responsibilities to support the local community. Of course it’s completely acceptable for a volunteer to take a break (and please do form time to time!), but on the other hand I think that one of those responsibilities include to be active for the local community (or the global community for that matter) on a regular basis. Would you agree to that? If so, what do you think how we could keep Reps accountable to that responsibility?

Further, my observation here is that this discussion is mostly focused on reports. I’m pretty sure that filling out reports is not the only possible solution to achieve accountability. What do the rest of the people reading here think about the “regular communication with your mentor with OKRs idea”? What could be other means to achieve the goal of accountability? We came up with those initial ideas in a meeting with very few persons. Having more than 200 Reps in the program currently, I’m sure that there are a lot of other ideas that could be of value here! Feel free to also suggest ideas that might sound crazy at the beginning, but might actually be the solution for this!

For myself it starts with holding myself accountable. While this is probably contradicting the “accountability” term in theory, it’s what I’m trying. I’m setting myself clear goals with action items to bring something to completion. Further I have the goal to respond to community members within at least 2 days for any question they have or help they might need. Having Henrik as mentor who keeps me accountable to that as well helps here as well. But it might not need to be Henrik, it could basically be anyone else I have a trusted relation with. For my Council work it’s the rest of the Council members and the Reps Peers who hold me accountable.

Here’s an idea that just came to my mind:
Our initial idea was to increase and making sure that the accountability part of the Reps role is hold on through the mentor. What if this could be anyone in the community who knows your responsibilities very well and would hold you accountable on them? What if we go further by one level and would have someone else accountable of that person?

I’d love to hear all your crazy ideas here, we’re talking about this because we want to find the best possible solution,

Do we have a crystal clear definition and/or program-wide shared understanding of “what is Reps accountability”?

Unless we have that, it will be hard to define implementation strategies or tactics. Right?

To me “accountability” means to have my words and my actions aligned. Maybe that is just being authentic, though?


I really like the idea of regular communication with your mentor, but full OKRs feel too corporate and too strict for the general case - heck, that’s even stricter and more efficiency-driven than the personal goal setting that Mozilla employees do internally! I think OKRs are fine for projects, but I don’t like them for people. Written-down goals as one-liners are good, but I don’t think everything needs to be exactly measurable with predefined metrics, esp. as we are a volunteer-driven organization and you never know how much time you’ll be able to spend in the next months or quarters (while employees have predefined amounts of time to spend on work), and with goals like “3 more local community members” it so much depends on single people falling one way or the other and defining what it means that IMHO doing strict OKRs isn’t a good idea.
Maybe we should start simpler and have 1-3 one-sentence goal definitions that you review regularly with your mentor.

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That is definitely something I’d say that is shared among our understanding (Peers and Reps) of what the Reps program should be. I’m not sure if you’d agree that joining the Reps program should come with more responsibilities and therefore would require more actions on accountability. What I’m thinking of here is mostly the “supporting and empowering local community” part. Would you agree if I’d say that this needs additional accountability to make sure that local communities are supported as efficient as possible?

Thanks for your feedback, to some extend I agree with you. Being a volunteer and being an employee is a completely different thing. Volunteers have limited time and I’d imagine would like to focus on the most impactful things that is in their interest and is fun for them to do (that’s what I at least want).

Nevertheless I think OKR is the perfect framework for this. As far as I understand, it might seem more strict, but one part of the OKR theory is to reach for stars, and it’s completely normal to fail some Objectives. So I’d prefer this over “normal goals” since this, for me, implies that you need to achieve this. In OKR theory the goals should be tightly tied what you want to achieve. I’d say OKR is a reaching-for-the-stars framework which might result in some sometimes almost seem-to-be unachievable objectives. After all, “inspirational” is one of the key ideas behind OKRs. Key results should be hard, but not impossible. This also means that Reps could define their OKRs on a level where this is possible. Thinking about the questions “How much time do I devote to the project?” and “Where do I want to grow personally?” might lead to really efficient and beneficial key results. Can I suggest to read the Art of OKRs?

After all, yes, I agree that OKRs are ambitious, but nevertheless allow individuals to have a growth trajectory for themselves.

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Just a quick quote from the blog post I linked above about OKR. I think this is really important:

Get Ready to Fail… BIG!
Compare that to the goal you thought you could make, maybe 2% conversion because you’d been reading the 80/20 articles. If you shoot for the moon, you may not make it but it’s a hell of a view.

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When I set out some goals, no matter in what framework, and don’t achieve them, I feel disempowered, frustrated and like I didn’t have any success. That’s not what I want Reps to feel.
But maybe I’m overly sensitive to frustration and missing success experiences after the recent happenings (where exactly that contributed to me almost running into burn-out).

Replying to just this section, fyi I haven’t read the rest yet.

Peers and the Reps module owner are supposed to be tracking whether or not council members are performing their duties. We’ve come up with processes for this that haven’t been implemented. In this case I think simply being transparent will go a long way. Publishing stats on council members’ meeting attendance and vote participation (heck even how they vote) at least gives Reps a chance to decide if they like how a council member is performing. Peers could also be following through with reaching out to council members who aren’t meeting their responsibilities to decide whether they can step up or need to be replaced (honourably discharged).

Mentors will take more time, but I think council needs to be in line first and foremost.

Thanks for your thoughts! I fully agree that everything regarding this starts with Council. If Council is not accountable, why should non-Council members be?

However I don’t agree on the metric you’re proposing here. Council meeting attendence is important, but I don’t think the “performance” of Council members should be measured based on that. I think we’ve done a big step in terms of transparency with our GitHub repository. Like that everyone can follow what we’re working on even hold Council members who own a task responsible to bring it forward if it doesn’t move as fast as you’d like it to. Of course there is a small fraction of tasks that we can’t disclose publicly, mostly community conflicts we’re helping to resolve. For these tasks, the Peers can hold us accountable.

Now regarding voting: which information do you think would be valuable here or what would you learn about individual member’s votings? I’d love to hear more about the intentions behind this statement. How would that be important to see if your elected Council member is “performing”?

This is already happening.

Any initial thoughts on this? I think discussing “holding Council accountable” is important as well, though I’d like to hear ideas on Mentors and non-Mentors as well.

If council members are not attending meetings and are not voting that is a
very good indicator of performance. It’s the MVP. I agree that ultimately
we want to judge a council member’s actual impact to the program, but that
is where we build to, not where we start.