In two previous posts, we discussed why it’s important to use meeting minutes to document what occurs in your meetings, and we discussed the minimum elements that should be incorporated in meeting minutes to achieve the key objectives of the meeting.
We explained that action items and key decisions need to be documented to record them for future reference and that attendance should be taken so that people can be held accountable for their participation in the meeting.
But knowing the value of meeting minutes is one thing. How do you ensure the practice is actually followed? Here are some tips.
At the start of every meeting, make sure someone is assigned to take meeting minutes. You can even add this step to the agenda. Often, this will be the person who calls for the meeting, but sometimes that person may delegate to someone else, since it can be difficult to lead a meeting and take minutes at the same time.
The key isn’t necessarily who is assigned, just that someone is assigned. That someone doesn’t necessarily need to be in an administrative assistant type of position. In fact, it can be useful to rotate minute taking among all members of the team.
Often, meetings are not one-off affairs but a series of ongoing meetings for long-term projects. Make sure you are using your meeting minutes from previous meetings to recap previous discussions and check up on the status of assigned action items.
Even if a meeting was a one-off, the minutes can be used to remind those who have action items of the deliverables they are expected to produce or follow up on.
It takes time to write and distribute meeting minutes, and some may question their value. But, they’ll definitely question the value if the minutes aren’t used or referred to.
Hold People Accountable
This is everyone’s job. If you haven’t received meeting minutes from the designated “scribe” within a day or so of a meeting, send him or her an e-mail and copy the rest of the attendees. It might seem like overkill, but holding people accountable is a key step in enforcing new norms.
After a while, it won’t be necessary; the creation and distribution of meeting minutes will simply be part of your company culture around meetings.
Meetings are often a necessary use of people’s time. You want to take steps to make sure that this time is used as effectively as possible. Meeting minutes are a simple, but extremely effective, way to do just that.