You had a great meeting discussion with your team today. You decided on a plan of action, created a to-do list, and assigned tasks. Now you can kick back and wait for everyone to be back in touch, right? Not exactly. As the team leader or meeting host, you have a few steps left to go, to ensure that your meeting drives results. No matter how dedicated everyone is, it’s easy to get sidetracked by competing priorities – so it’s up to you to keep the momentum going.
1. Follow up individually.
To manage the next steps more effectively, you want to have assigned actions to specific people during the meeting. But enthusiasm and commitment can wane once the group discussion is over. Following up with everyone assigned to a task is a good way to confirm roles, set realistic deadlines and offer your assistance if questions or issues come up that may delay completion. Do this immediately after the meeting, while the discussion is top of mind. And this conversation doesn’t need to be overly complex – if you’re in the same office, just take a few minutes to swing by everyone’s desks. If you or others are working remotely, send them a brief email message or ping them on Slack.
2. Confirm the plan.
Once you’ve checked in with individual contributors, create a short document with the action list, assigned names, deadlines and any relevant meeting notes. If you designated someone specifically to take notes at the meeting, use what they’ve already built for you. Simply share the notes with additional action-list details (like deadlines and assigned name) filled in.
3. Reiterate expectations.
When you distribute the action list, remind the team about the overall expectations on the project. Reiterate that each piece of the project is important to achieving a greater goal. You can even acknowledge that unexpected things happen, and remind everyone that you expect people to reach out to you if they run in to issues.
In this note, you should also specify how you’d like teams to report back once they complete their assignments. Is it through a project-management app like Trello, or should they set meeting with you to review? So if you expect a certain format, specify that right at the start.
4. Check on progress.
Silence is not always golden! Don’t assume that everything is going as planned. At various times as you approach the project deadline, check on progress with each person. You may be surprised (or perhaps not) how often people forget to get started, or just stop when they hit a roadblock. try to address their issues as best you can, keeping in mind the greater goal of the project. If someone underestimated their workload or the time commitment for the assignment, give them the opportunity to renegotiate deadlines and discuss options.
5. Report back.
Don’t leave the group hanging —let everyone know along the way as actions are completed, and the results. You can do this through a standard progress report, or a live online document. This keeps every person accountable, including you as the team leader. It’s essential for the group to see how their work was meaningful and contributed to an important project. That’s how you get them enthused again when it’s time for the next project to kick off!
It’s much too common for people attending a meeting to spend most of their energy on the discussion that happens in the room, then they leave thinking they’re done. But the meeting is really just a tool that helps facilitate group communications on projects and actions. If you flip the meeting idea on its head, and shift their energy to prepping and following up, you and your team will be much more productive.