A host of decisions are made at meetings. Yet, we later discover that changes are still not being carried out. Why?
Mnagers go from one meeting to another and their attention automatically shifts to a different set of issues,” explains Paul Axtell, author of Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations, in an article published in the Harvard Business Review. “Then, people leave the meeting without any clear idea of what decisions were taken.”
In light of these observations, the American consultant offers two simple steps to ensure that decisions taken during a meeting turn into concrete results.
First step: write and distribute a report after each meeting. “It is a powerful means of persuasion. It keeps informed those who were not at the meeting and it reminds those who were of their commitments. We can use the report to get everyone in sync and target what needs to be done by the next meeting,” he states in his article.
So we are not talking about writing a dissertation paper. At most a page with the following content: a brief summary of the topics that were discussed, and a list of specific actions to be undertaken by whom and by when. “This report should be sent within 24 hours following the meeting,” says the consultant.
Which brings us to the second step: the monitoring of commitments. “Managers too often assume that people will take the initiative and will necessarily act on a good idea if they are given autonomy,” says Axtell.
“However, the most talented people and those that are more involved do not always do what they say they will do, and we should not be surprised to learn this. People are solicited from all sides and are overwhelmed with work. The manager must be monitoring progress closely if he does not want good ideas to fall through the cracks.”
For managers who fear of becoming ‘micromanagers’, Paul Axtell says that a sustained follow-up is necessary for any project management.
It can also remind those managers that micromanaging is not always as terrible as it seems, especially when it comes to launching a new project requiring special attention.
To establish the second measure, the US consultant suggests setting expectations in the heat of the moment, at the time of the meeting. “At the end of each topic, pause to clearly identify the actions to take and come up with a schedule with the person who will be responsible for the assignment.”
The idea is not to be riding on due dates, but to ensure that the project progresses. So Paul Axtell proposes to choose the delivery date together with the person in charge, then staying informed of any postponement.