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After the development portion is complete, it's time to report on commitments. If you're following the agenda we've provided, attendees will have committed to action items at the conclusion of the previous meeting. We now want to receive reports on the status of commitments from all attendees. This process is actually very simple. The leader using the minutes from the previous meeting reads through the commitments each person made and asks simply, did you do this? If the answer is yes, then the leader can say something briefly, like "good job" or "thank you," but what if the answer is no? The leader should then ask something like, "what got in the way of completing that?" or "what obstacle did you encounter?" This is much more effective than asking a "why" question such as "why didn't you do this?" Why is a very strong word and often carries with it the assumption of personal blame.
By substituting what stood in the way for why, you are leaving open the possibility to many different reasons that could have kept the person from completing their assigned task. The leader should not respond with anything further at this time. We just want a brief explanation of what prevented the attendee from completing the commitment. If this explanation generates a topic that the group or the leader wishes to discuss further, then add it to the task list to be discussed at a later time.
Regardless of their responses, finish with brief, specific, and sincere praise. By always giving brief sincere praise, you become someone that's a trusted resource, rather than a demanding taskmaster. People will welcome you insight and become more forthcoming about errors when they happen. One last comment for managers: if you notice a pattern of someone not completing their commitments, you'll likely want to follow up with that person in a one-to-one meeting, not in a group meeting.
The one-to-one meeting is a great time for a manager to assist employees in following through on commitments or deal with deeper personal issues that may be influencing their lack of follow-through. Keep the meeting moving along and focused on actions and results. By taking this approach, you'll ensure commitments are completed and meetings are productive.
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