When working with clients, one of the most important roles I play is holding them accountable to do what they know they must do to keep their businesses thriving. When you own the business, it can be easy to allow the urgent to overwhelm the important. Before you know it, the important has slid for months and the business is slipping as a result. That is the reason for accountability action plans — the important never gets lost sight of.
With every entrepreneur I coach, I summarize a list of action items we are working on and send them a copy following our meeting. Not only does this create clarity on the important tasks we are working on, but I’m getting feedback that a number of these clients have started using this approach in their own meetings for the following four benefits they are seeing:
1. By providing a list of specific actions people are responsible for, there is no misunderstanding to what is expected by the next meeting. It also removes the excuses of, “I thought he was doing that?” Or, “That’s not what I thought you meant.” Sure, meeting attendees take notes in meetings, but at the end of the meeting is everyone on the same page as to what is expected of them? It’s not uncommon for people to leave a managerial meeting confused on next steps. Distributed meeting action items to those responsible can eliminate confusion.
2. Action plans set the agenda for the coming meeting. I think we can all agree, too much time gets wasted in meetings that are poorly structured and filled with tangents. When everyone knows what is expected of them, they should arrive prepared to discuss their action items. Meetings become much more efficient, important issues get handled and the organization is more focused on taking care of what makes it successful.
3. The action item list creates a priority. Each action plan has three sections; top priorities, current action items and ongoing action items. There should be no doubt to anyone in the meeting what is most important and what is getting carried-over as undone too many times.
4. It creates a timeline. When an action item has carried over for months and it should’ve been done in a couple weeks, it becomes a red flag for the leader to dig deeper on what the holdup is. This identifies problems of execution and eliminates excuses.
Entrepreneurs managing many time demands can make meetings more impactful, be clearer on what is expected and audit what is actually getting accomplished when accountability action plans are routinely used.