When you call a meeting, it’s safe to say no one has a greater stake than you in making sure it produces results. Here’s the thing. Meetings generally don’t produce the results. They generate the ideas, plans or decisions that must be implemented after the meeting, and its those that eventually lead to the outcomes you wanted in the first place.
I suppose one could argue that running a meeting and making sure someone does what they said they were going to do are two different sets of responsibilities. But right here, right now I’d like to expand the scope of what it means to be a meeting leader. It’s not only about running a great meeting, but it’s also about making sure the meeting mattered. If people don’t follow through, it may as well never have happened.
There are a couple levels of follow-up I’d like you to consider. First is the post-meeting courtesy contact. You could send a note or better yet pick up the phone and say to the person, “Just as a followup to make sure you are comfortable with what you said that you would do. According to the notes you agreed to do these two items (describe them in a way that makes the expectations as you understand them crystal clear). Is that the same understanding you walked away with? You foresee any problems in getting them done?”
A second level of follow-up comes when there are a series of meetings associated with achieving a goal. Perhaps in the meeting that’s coming up, you want to spend some time discussing progress on several of the actions people agreed to in previous meetings. Since this is the plan and you still have some time prior to the meeting, you could call the person that was assigned an action and say, “I’m putting together the plan for our next meeting. I want to spend some time talking about the work you’ve been doing. Just want to make sure you’ll be ready next week when we meet. Will you be good to go?”
A meeting’s success should always be judged by the effects it creates. Knowing this, your role as meeting leader starts looking a lot like project manager. Wear the hat well.
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