Master Facilitator Journal


Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0406, August 25, 2009

Dear Friends,
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One very common question I get from readers is this, "How do you motivate participants to follow up on commitments they make during meetings?" This is a great question and a very important one. After all, what's the point of planning, designing, and facilitating a gathering of busy people who come up with great ideas and perhaps even some wonderful decisions if no one follows through on the action steps developed or decisions that were made?

This week's article, A Call to Action, reviews ideas to help you facilitate follow through after your meetings. These ideas came from a discussion I had with my friend Darin Harris and includes strategies he uses quite successfully in his meetings as a consultant and facilitator at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Facilitating at a Distance coming September 28th: Essentials of Teleclass & Virtual Meeting Facilitation. This class is for those of you wanting to offer a teleclass but don't feel you have all the skills and knowledge you need to do so, or for managers working with distributed teams that require you to facilitate virtual meetings. See details at the end of this issue.

Virtual Small Groups. My friends at Maestro Conference are at long last coming out of their beta testing and going live today, August 25th! For the next week, in celebration of this event, they are offering significantly discounted prices on their monthly feeds. This technology easily allows breakout groups in teleconferences. The ability to have a very clean, clear audio connection though the use of the telephone, and then be able to easily separate people into subgroups of virtually any size, fills what was one of the key deficits of meeting virtually. The potential of this technology to increase productivity, collaboration, teamwork, and problem solving in an increasingly virtual world is incredible. If you'd like to test drive this system for 30-days, go here for a free trial.

Birthday Special.
I'm extending my Birthday Special, offering you and your friends the gift of a discounted FacilitatorU Lifetime Membership. Go here to view the features of this offer and enter the coupon code "holiday" to receive your discount.

Blessings,

Steve
Founder, FacilitatorU.com

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The Point


A Call to Action
Know strategies to facilitate follow through after your meetings.


Logistics Skill


One very common question I get from readers is this, "How do you motivate participants to follow up on
commitments they make during meetings?" This is a great question and a very important one. After all, what's the point of planning, designing, and facilitating a gathering of busy people who come up with great ideas and perhaps even some wonderful decisions if no one follows through on the action steps developed or decisions that were made?

I like to think that I'm pretty good at following up on my commitments in a timely fashion. And most of the time I am. But sometimes, other things take precedence or rob my attention. Most of us in the work world are under the high
stress of increasing workloads, time crunches, a desire to please our customers, and innumerable distractions, making it difficult to always follow through. In fact, while I believe that the vast majority of people I interact with have good intentions, I've found that nine out of ten of them won't follow through without my help. Once I accepted that, I've seen the frequency of follow through with those I work with improve immensely.

Now of course you could say that people should be grown ups and stick to their commitments. But if they don't, and their work affects yours, then your only consolation at the end of the day is being able to blame someone else for your problems. I've seen many people take this approach. Expecting others to be reliable and blaming them when they weren't. This perspective is also irresponsible.

So what can we do to facilitate follow through in our groups? Here are a few strategies to try.


Application


Implement the following actions in the groups you facilitate to maximize their efforts:

  • Facilitate public commitment to action. When the need for an action item becomes apparent, ask for a volunteer to commit to that action. Check to see if this person needs any specific help or resources from others and ask them when they will complete this action.

  • Publish action item and owner promptly. Publish and distribute the meeting minutes within 24 hours of the meeting. In bold face type, include each action item, the name of the person responsible it, and the date they committed to completing it.

  • Hold action holders accountable. Include separate agenda items on the next meeting agenda for the people responsible for each action item to report on the status or outcome of their action.

  • Be positive versus punitive. Check in regularly with action holders to support and offer needed help and coaching. Never criticize or make anyone wrong for not moving forward on an action item. Instead, ask what help they need to get the action handled on time. Understand that many people have the irrational belief that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Assure them that knowing when help is needed is a sign of good leadership. Help them shift their focus from what they aren't doing to what could be done by the team to assure success.

  • Personalize actions and decisions. Don’t finalize action items or decisions without assigning an accountable party. It often happens that very good decisions are made without anyone assigned to carry that decision into action. As a facilitator, make sure this doesn't happen. Always assure that no item comes to a close without a name being assigned to shepard it forward.

  • What works for you? Share any additional strategies that have worked for you to facilitate follow through. We'll add your contributions here with your name and title attached.

Action


What will you do differently as a group leader or participant this week to assure that follow through improves in your meetings? Please share your thoughts and experiences with me by replying to this email.


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