Business meetings take place at every organization, and they are often dreaded by most people. Maybe it’s because companies are all making the same mistake at the end of their meetings – not creating commitments. Have you ever been in meetings where many decisions are made, but nobody is held accountable? Chances are the answer is yes. That tends to be the common denominator among most meetings.
Try to end every business meeting with a clear commitment. It may seem like you are already doing so, but do any of these phrases sound familiar?
“It would be great if…”
“Do we all agree to…?”
“Can you try to…?”
If they do, this is a sign of people who ask without really asking. Those phrases are more of a muddled request. In order to solve this problem (and make a clear commitment), you must be direct and request an action item be accomplished by a specific person. Make sure to explain your purpose for asking and aim for a clear response. Your statement should go something like this:
“In order to get A, I ask that you deliver B by C. Can you commit to that?”
Obviously this sounds a little stark, so suit your language to your business and company culture. When you ask this question, there are only three possible answers:
1. Yes, I commit.
2. No, I cannot commit.
3. I can’t commit yet because X.
This way, when a person responds with a commitment, they are held accountable to deliver on their obligation. When they don’t commit, they are letting you know to not hold them responsible because, most likely, they won’t deliver. Although it isn’t ideal to decline, there are many good reasons. Some of these include not having adequate resources, conflicts due to a previous commitment, or time constraints.
If you are the person who is not ready to commit (answer 3 above), do your best to explain why. For example, maybe the request is unclear for you. If this is the case, ask for clarification. Or if you need to check your resources, promise to respond by a certain time. This way you aren’t leaving a colleague in limbo. Maybe you don’t have the time to complete the commitment. If this is the case, offer an alternative suggestion that may help both parties.
Keep in mind that clear commitments aren’t a guarantee that everything will work out, but they are stepping stones to more effective meetings. For more tips on making the most out of your next meeting, and getting clear commitments, contact us today!