3 minute read: In organisations where people get things done, they also get meeting actions done. Testing for timely completion of meeting actions is a great temperature check for your business. If you are the meeting chair it’s also a great place to start with building increased stimulus control (you ask for something to be done, and its get’s done, accurately and on time).
“If people are not completing on their actions, the current work environment does not provide sufficient reinforcement for completion.”
Similar to late attendance, if failure to complete on actions is the behavioural norm pay attention to what happens next. Are overdue actions followed up or do they just get rolled over to the next meeting date or perhaps assigned to someone else? Does the action owner may receive attention for being too busy and then avoid collecting any new ones? If people are not completing on their actions, the current work environment does not provide sufficient prompts or reinforcement for completion or there are obstacles getting in the way.
A good place to start is taking a look at the action log, is there a clear and pinpointed record of who, will do what and by when? Often this very basic is missing. Vague actions are recorded, often without an agreed timescale, or perhaps assigned to someone who wasn’t even in the meeting. Clear up the action log in the meeting, makes sure everyone leaves the room with a clear expectation of what they need to do next and by when.
“Make sure everyone leaves the room with a clear expectation of what they need to do next and by when.”
Identify any obstacles that are getting in the way of action close out, if clear expectations are mutually agreed it's much easier to then collect some data and have an enquiring conversation with the performers to understand what is getting in the way.
If it’s a case of aligning consequences to support the behaviour, we need to make sure we are not unintentionally reinforcing non completion or perhaps punishing completion. To make it more likely that action owners will deliver for your meetings try the following:
Hold the review of actions at the start of the next meeting.
Avoid just giving new actions to those that always complete their actions.
If an action isn’t completed, ask the delegate what they can do to progress it moving forwards. Research shows that asking people what they will do to progress something rather than reporting on what they did (or didn't do) makes it more likely they will do something.
Give attendees that have completed their actions the opportunity to explain how they did it, this gives you chance to reinforce the specifics.
Collect and share the data on action close out for the group. This is a great way to use some negative reinforcement to kick off something new that you can positively reinforce when you see movement.
Any finally, speaking to people 121 in between meetings about their actions make it much more likely that you will see progress.
Getting people to close out actions is a great place to start with shaping up you behavioural skills or when coaching others to develop their leadership skills.