Project meetings are a part of any business life. A meeting is where goals are often set, tasks are assigned, and progress is expected. However, whether your team implements their roles after the meeting is questionable. Paul Axtell, in an article for Harvard Business Review, says that once you’ve left the meeting, things come up and priorities shift. Therefore, you should end the meeting with clear agreements on specific actions and completion dates for each task.
“Do thing X by time Y or call”
Don’t automatically default to your due dates as days when you can just sit back and gather completed work of other people. Despite what is covered in a meeting, once everyone has left the room, it’s a different story. Axtell thinks only about three-fifths of action items agreed upon are completed on average, but 85 percent completion is the standard to which teams should strive.
We can explain this number simply through the fact that people have other priorities in life, like sick kids at home or funerals to attend. If not for these reasons, they can come up with any other “creative” excuses for every incomplete or late assignment submission. In the meantime, you and your company suffer. These people are responsible for the consequences, indeed, but you’re not totally guiltless, either. If you know that this is a common scenario in your workplace, you can change the way things get done in your meetings.
At the end of every meeting, clarify who will do what task by what time, and remind people that they have agreed to fulfill these tasks, so there is hardly a justification for their failure to complete them. You can also tell them during the meeting that dates are negotiable until they feel comfortable being able to deliver promised tasks; thus, they don’t have to say “yes” to please anyone. Otherwise, say, “Do thing X by time Y or call.” As Axtell explains, by doing this, it becomes less about “perfection in delivery” and more about “perfection in communication.”
In case you’ve tried everything and things still don’t work well, you can address the issue directly and personally with your team. Axtell suggests asking the following questions:
- Is each action item essential to completion of the project?
- At the time we commit, do we fully intend to do whatever it takes to deliver?
- Are we clear about what needs to be done, who will do it, and when it will be done?
- Do we have the ability to say no or negotiate when we can’t fully commit?
- Is it OK if someone follows up to check on our progress?
- Do we have a system to keep track of action items and their completion?
- Do we have an agreement to communicate if something comes up that might interfere with our completion of the task?
You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/03/how-to-get-your-team-to-follow-through-after-a-meeting