Q: My team seems to be stuck.  We keep having meetings about what to do, but nothing seems to happen and we show up at the next meeting right where we left off in the previous one.  What’s going on?

A:  Sounds like you aren’t getting commitment before you leave the meeting, even if you don’t have active dissent in the meeting.  First, are you actually agreeing to take action when you leave a meeting?  That would be a place to start.   Make sure you have a clear purpose for meeting and agree on what needs to be on the agenda.  Then as you are leaving, be sure that you have agreed on what happens next.

To do this, you can summarize the actions you are agreeing to as a result of the meeting.  Ask everyone what questions or concerns they have with the actions you are agreeing to and have a discussion if needed to help everyone gain commitment to the action.  Outline accountability for the actions you are agreeing to – who is responsible, what action will he/she take, when will it be done, etc. 

If you always seem to run out of time before getting to the commitment part of the meeting – suggest up front that you leave x minutes at the end to summarize and commit to next steps.  You will have to determine based on the size of your group and the overall length of the meeting what that number of minutes should be.

At the next meeting if something didn’t get done, ask why.  The way you ask will matter – you want to ask from a place of curiosity and non-judgement – you are looking for what obstacle was encountered, not to shame someone publicly for missing a deadline.  If you can’t seem to pinpoint what got in the way, go back to the action and agreement and see what other options people have for solving the problem and you may see where the lack of commitment is rooted.

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