Follow Up to Follow Through

Kristin Arnold Are you having trouble getting your team to follow-through on their tasks? You’re not alone. Most teams identify possible tasks throughout the course of their meetings, so the action items become a hodgepodge of possibilities.

It’s always a good idea to have a flipchart ready to record the idea as it emerges as well as the name of the person who suggested the task. At the end of the meeting, review the “task list.” Make sure the team thoroughly understands the task assigned and the scope of the work. You may discover a task doesn’t need to be done at all!

Make sure you confirm the name of at least one person responsible for completing each task. That person is accountable to the team for ensuring the task is complete. Notice, it doesn’t mean they have to do all the work, but they do have to marshal the right people and resources to get the job done.

Ask the person responsible if they are going to need some help, then quickly identify who will help them. It’s a good practice for those people to touch base right after the meeting to set up a time to get together.

Set a specific due date. Rather than “next week,” write down February 11th. By assigning a specific date, the task becomes much more tangible and can be written on their calendars. If appropriate, put the task on a timeline and show how it affects other team events or tasks.

Make sure the action items are captured in the meeting minutes. Typically, minutes are sent out within two days of the meeting as a quick reminder to each team member.

Then, devise a system to follow-up on those tasks.

Post a “team task list” in a common area. This list has the assigned, and not yet completed tasks. Responsible person and due date. Check or cross the task off the list when done.

During your team meetings, report out progress, completion, or any delays. Celebrate and congratulate completion. Note progress and see if any help is needed. And if there is a delay, don’t shoot the messenger! Instead, allow the team member to explain what happened and what they are doing to get the task done. Ask what the team can do to ensure the task is done within a reasonable timeframe.

If it seems like many deadlines are slipping, prioritize your team task list so each team member knows what is vital (it must be done – give it a “A”), important (it should be done – a “B”) and nice to have (it could be done – a “C”) to your team’s work.

As you build a system to support the team’s follow through on assigned tasks, the team will start to feel responsible to each other for completing the projects each team member takes on.

Kristin Arnold, CMC, CPF, CSP
Helping Teams to be Extraordinary
800.589.4733 or 703.278.0892

Print page