Action Items – Following Up & Not Forgotten
How to Ensure Action Items Stay on Track and on the Radar
A meeting is frequently held and concluded with all the attendees going back to their projects and routines without much thought. The action items discussed often become forgotten. This can be problematic, especially when the sole purpose of meetings is to make decisions and take actions based on those decisions. Therefore, we need to make sure team meetings result in a productive outcome through follow-ups.
Take specific notes on action items.
During meetings, assign one person to write down all mentioned action items clearly and concisely. These action items and their delivery dates will set the agenda for the next meeting. Action items should be specific, measurable, and attainable. Complicated items should be broken down into step by step deliverables with their own delivery dates. Clarifying questions may include: What needs to be done to achieve this deliverable? What methodology will be used? Are the desired results reasonably achievable by someone in the meeting?
Action items allow team members to know exactly what they need to do to move the project forward, resulting in improved productivity.
For example, instead of “Pitch Deck due 8/15/20,” consider breaking down the actions needed:
- Prepare slides – Mary – due 8/15/20
- Prepare demo – John – due 8/17/20
- Schedule demo (aim for a meeting on 8/20/20) – Sue – due 8/18/20
Create and use a tracker.
Project boards are a great way to track action items. Each action item must be assigned to an owner on these trackers, and each action item needs a delivery date. By including precise details, team members gain clear insights into the project progress.
Prioritize action items.
Instead of assigning due dates based on meeting schedules, schedule action items regarding their levels of urgency. Are there low priority items that can be moved to later delivery dates? This way, the timeline will not only convey what needs to be done, but it also lets the team know what action items need immediate attention.
A clear summary of items should be shared within an hour of the meeting with all the meeting members. This brief message can be sent via chat or email as needed between meetings. Effective follow-ups can reduce the number of meetings.
Maintain open channels of communication.
Success comes from open communication between team members that feel comfortable sharing successes and failures for action item completion. If an action item is not finished, identify roadblocks and what steps will be needed. Open communication allows the team to make informed decisions on moving your project forward.