I see the actions arising as THE MOST important outcomes from committee meetings. Actions are not recorded just for the sake of looking productive. They capture the next steps that the committee agrees will move the organisation closer to the strategic goals approved by management. If the actions register is not duly respected and prioritised, the committee will not achieve its objectives in an efficient matter, or maybe not achieve them at all. The impact of the committee will be severely limited.
Here are my three top observed reasons why committee action registers are ineffective, and the small changes you can make that will return big results for your committee.
#3. Vague or ambiguous actions cause confusion
It may seem obvious, but actions must clearly state the agreed outcome and who will carry it out (the assignee). If your actions don’t make sense when you read them back, it’s likely they will be misinterpreted by other members.
Solution: Be detailed and specific about the outcome for each action, and nominate who is responsible. Record multi-step actions as numbered points, each with their own assignee.
#2. Actions without deadlines are low priority
An action without a due date is just a wish: ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘must have’. When you record an action sans deadline, you presume that the assignee and other meeting attendees share your expectation of when the action should be completed (and that the minute-taker is a mind-reader).
Solution: Discuss and agree the due date for every action at the time they are conceived – during the meeting.
#1. Actions that are out of sight are out of mind
The number one reason why actions are ignored is a lack of visibility. Actions that remain buried inside the minutes can be overlooked or forgotten until the next time the minutes are read (which for many busy people is the day before the next meeting). Demonstrate the importance of actions by bringing attention to them during the meeting, and between meetings.
- Maintain an Active Actions Register separate from the minutes, and circulate it to members as soon as possible after each meeting (preferably the same or next day).
- Ask the Committee Secretary to check in with assignees 3-5 days before their actions fall due.
- Keep members accountable: review all active actions at the top of each meeting, and record progress against each action in the minutes.
With just a few simple adjustments, you can help committee members to prioritise actions they are responsible for, and keep the committee moving towards its goals. Ensure your meeting actions are detailed and specific, record the responsible person/s and due date, and consult the Active Actions Register both between and during meetings.
Click here if you would like to receive my MS Word template for an Active Actions Register, and further tips for using it effectively.