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Facilitator: The importance of follow-up

How many of you have been in a meeting where you made lots of plans and action items but no one ever followed up? Or perhaps you are part of an ongoing meeting where each week you keep bringing up new items and never really follow-up on what happened in the last meeting? As you know, it can be really frustrating to spend all the time, effort and engagement of a meeting only to have nothing happen as a result.  As a facilitator, particularly when you are facilitating internal meetings, one of your roles is to help the group follow-up on the decisions and action items from the meeting. Join me this week as I provide 3 ways to follow-up well after facilitating a meeting.

  1. Take immediate action. This is particularly easy to do when you are facilitating an online meeting but it can also be done after an in-person meeting. During the meeting, take notes (or have someone else take notes) of the specific action items and who is responsible in an email. As soon as the meeting is over, review the email briefly and send it out to the meeting participants (and cc’ yourself). Be sure the action items are in the body of the email and not just included as an attachment. If you are facilitating an in-person meeting, make sure you have clearly described the next steps and who is responsible. You may also want to schedule or remind participants of the next meeting and what will be ready for the next meeting. Send a follow-up email as soon as you can after the meeting (or have one of your other team members send it). You don’t have to necessarily include everything. Just include a few of the most important action items so that things can keep moving forward. Also, if you can take action on one or two of YOUR action items that only take a few minutes, do it! This will encourage others to take action as well.
  2. Schedule time to work on your tasks. Even if you have had a chance to work on one or two items immediately, you will likely have more action items that will take more than a few minutes to complete. Schedule time on your calendar before the next meeting to make progress on your tasks. Add it to your task manager or the system you use for organizing your work priorities. Keep that commitment to yourself and your team to get your tasks done. Set the example for the team by following-up on your action items which creates a culture of follow-up from others. You may even consider sending the team an email with what you’ve learned or accomplished prior to the meeting in order to prompt them to finish their action items before the next meeting.
  3. Start the next meeting with the results of the action items. Start your next meeting with an opportunity for meeting participants to share their progress on the action items, any new barriers encountered as well as ideas on ways to overcome those barriers. This helps you keep things moving in between meetings and ensures that you are making progress toward your collective purpose. It can be really easy for meetings to start “new” every time, but if you are leading a team or workgroup, it’s important that you consider what you have addressed from previous meetings to inform your future work.  This also helps build trust and increase engagement. See last week’s post on Facilitator: Increasing Engagement.

So what about you? What has worked for you in helping follow-up after facilitating a meeting?

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Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

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