Following Up on a Team’s Tasks is Vital

Posted by Kristin Arnold on April 5, 2009

Most teams identify possible tasks throughout the course of their meetings.  It’s always a good idea to have a flip chart ready to record the idea and ask someone to volunteer to do that task.  At the end of the meeting, review the “task list.”  Make sure the team thoroughly understands the task assigned and the scope of the work.  You may even discover that a task doesn’t need to be done at all!

Make sure you write down the name of at least one person responsible for completing each task.  That person is accountable to the team for ensuring the task is complete.  Notice, it doesn’t mean they have to do all the work, but they do have to marshal the right people and resources to get the job done.

Ask the person responsible if they are going to need some help, then quickly identify who will help them.  It’s a good practice for those people to touch base right after the meeting to set up a time to get together.

Set a specific due date.  Rather than “next week,” write down April 14th.  By assigning a specific date, the task becomes much more tangible and can be written on their calendars.  If appropriate, put the task on a time line and show how it affects other team events or tasks.

Make sure the action items are captured in the meeting minutes.  Typically, minutes are sent out within two days of the meeting.  This serves as a quick reminder to each team member.  Then, make sure you devise a system to follow up on those tasks.

Some teams like to post a “team task list” in a common area.  This list has all the assigned, and not yet completed tasks, person, and due date.  As a team member completes a task, they are able to check or cross it off the list.

One of the first items on your team’s agenda is a report out of the team’s “task list.”  Team members can report out completion, progress, or any delays.  Celebrate and congratulate completion.  Note progress and see if any help is needed.  And if there is a delay, don’t shoot the messenger!  You want to build a work culture that expects assigned tasks to be completed, not hide the facts.  Don’t assign blame.  Instead, allow the team member to explain what happened and what they are doing to get the task done.  Ask what the team can do to ensure the task is done within a reasonable amount of time.

If it seems like many deadlines are slipping, prioritize your team task list so each team member knows what is vital (it must be done — give it an “A”), important (it should be done — a “B”), and nice to have (it could be done — a “C”) to your team’s work.

Many teams develop ground rules to help each other follow through on tasks.  Offer help without being asked.  Ask for help — earlier rather than later.  Complete all tasks assigned within the agreed upon time frame.

As you build a system to support the team’s follow through on assigned tasks, the team will start to feel responsible to each other for completing the projects each team member takes on.

Question:  What system do you use to keep your tasks on target?

More on the topic of organizing tasks :

Cover the Bases, Establish Ground Rules

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