Dear Meeting Guru,

"I'm having trouble getting results from decisions that are made in meetings. A big problem is that we have great meetings but no one knows how to follow-up and who is responsible to do the tasks. I know that our meeting processes have to change for us to start getting more results from our meetings. Do you have any suggestions for us to begin on down the right path?"

Alexander Smith

Blessed Meeter,

It's important to assign tasks as they arise during a meeting. For example, if action needs to be taken on a particular issue, the meeting leader should immediately ask the appropriate person to follow up. If any one of the participants could complete the task, simply recruit a volunteer by asking, "Who wants to be responsible for this?" It's amazing how quickly people will volunteer when it's being recognized publicly in front of their peers or, even better, their supervisor.

During the meeting, the scribe should note each action item, who's responsible, the priority level and deadline. In the last few minutes of the meeting, review the action-items list to ensure everyone is clear on who's responsible for what and by when.

After the meeting, a summary e-mail should be sent to all of the participants. Include a copy of the meeting notes and the action-items list. Now that the deadlines have been defined and are common knowledge, it's more likely that meeting participants will follow up on them.

At the beginning of the next meeting, the first thing you should do is discuss the action-items list from the previous meeting. Take a couple of minutes for each person on the list to summarize the status of the action item. Doing this at each and every meeting will help your group complete the action items assigned.

As Confucius once said, "If your words are not humble, it will be difficult to put them into action." In other words, it's easy to make a big promise, fail to carry it through and hope it's been forgotten by others. Making a smaller, more realistic statement and carrying it through always puts you in a better light. After all, a promise means nothing if it isn't realized. If reasonable action items are assigned during your meetings, there's no reason why the participants shouldn't be capable of completing them. Clearing up the line of communication so that everyone understands who's responsible for what should help.

Until next time…may good meeting karma always be with you!

Read meeting dilemmas solved by the Meeting Guru.




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