SIRF Roundtables Blog

Effective Meeting Action Follow-Up

At a recent SIRF The Edge Leadership course session on teamwork, the question came up:

'As a frontline leader when you are working on developing trust, what if as a leader you don’t actually trust one of your team to complete assigned actions based on that persons past behaviours?'

Do your morning meetings often end with people with assigned actions from previous meetings re-negotiating an extension because they missed their original assigned date?

What can be done about this?

What should be done about this?

These questions came up at a recent SIRF masterclass on Visual Management expertly led by Andy Kelsall from CLS. In Andy’s masterclass, he highlighted that effective meetings do normally trigger some new action to be done. He also replied that you must first ensure that the person assigned truly owns the action – that the person commits to not only doing it, but also commits to the time frame. Andy further suggested that, where possible, milestones for the action are set up to track progress in stages and take action to bring the timeline back on track.

In this session, we also shared the example from a previous Vistaprint visual team board where those that missed their dates were given Tim Tam cards and this meant that they had to buy and bring in Tim Tams for the remaining team members to enjoy as a consequence for letting the team down by missing their action. It is always good to have consequence for behaviours that we don’t want – especially if they involve Tim Tams.

Thinking about this somewhat further after the event, it is clear to me that while the problem itself - actions not being completed in time - can appear simple to fix. It can possibly also be more complex than this. Is the behaviour an individual problem or is it systemic? Are many people often missing their deadlines? Do we have more problems than we have people who can solve them? Important here is the point is not more problems that people but more problems than people with genuine problem solving capability. Are people overburdened with their current work load? Are they poor managers of their own time? Are they unable to estimate an accurate action completion date, since the full solution is not yet understood?

In many manufacturing plants that I have visited, with a cursory look at the team board action list, it is often relatively easy to see who the maintenance manager is – almost invariably they are the ones with the most actions to be completed. Sometimes we have more equipment problems that people or process problems. Equally, sometimes it is easier to document and make visible machine issues rather than somewhat more sensitive people issues. However, the best plant’s manage this by also making it visible how effectively those overburdened delegate the action to those in their team to own and complete. Effective delegation helps but only if the team are themselves effective problems solvers – having both the skill and the will and the time to solve problems.

The role of leadership in this is key. It is always their role to direct, coach and manage the complexity to have problems resolved and build their people and their business capability in the process.

One last comment, the actions from morning meetings are almost always reactive but the danger in always reacting to everything is that it can distract the team and take resources and time from the critical few proactive things that need to be done. It could be like being too busy swatting flies away to lose sight of the snake on the balcony. Again good leadership is key to be able to take a helicopter view, see the trends, manage people’s workloads and ensure that the critical things also progress.

If you want help improving your team’s problem solving skills , SIRF’s excellent RCA course is now available on line RCA Rt | Virtual course | Advanced Root Cause Analysis | 6 online sessions


Brian Niven



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