Getting Team Members to Follow Through

By Heather Baldwin

You’ve just finished your weekly sales meeting and assigned tasks to several members of your sales team. Once they’re done, you’ll be able to check a big project off your to-do list, so you get busy on some other work and wait for the completed tasks to roll in. And you wait…and wait…and wait. When you check up on them later, you’re given a range of excuses from: I didn’t have time to I forgot. If that scenario sounds familiar and you’re looking for ways to get team members to follow through on a meeting’s action items, try these three steps recommended by 3M’s Meeting Network (www.3M.com/meetingnetwork).

Write it down. There’s something more compelling about seeing a task in writing than hearing it assigned verbally. So get out a big flip chart or walk over to the dry-erase board and start writing. That way everyone on the team will see exactly who is responsible for what duties, which could put peer pressure to work for you as well. Still, you need to go one step further after each action item is written down and identify how each task will contribute to the completed project. The combination of seeing an assignment in writing and understanding how that assignment is vital to a project’s success should motivate team members to follow through and complete their tasks.

Circulate an agenda. A few days prior to the next meeting send out a planned agenda that includes a restatement of the action items team members were assigned. For reps who truly did forget, this is a good way to remind them without pointing fingers. Along the same lines, after the initial meeting try sending out meeting minutes that specify each task, the person responsible for it and the date by which it has to be completed.

Meet one-on-one. If you’ve tried the steps above and team members still don’t complete their assigned tasks, call them on it in private by restating the agreement as you understood it and explaining the impact their failure to follow through has had on the project. Then ask what they think should be done. Chances are, you’ll get a redoubled effort to complete their end of the bargain.