In the world of gymnastics, the dismount is the last thing a judge sees before determining an athlete’s score. When an athlete concludes their routine with perfection commentators often say that they “stuck the landing!” Too often, leaders bring people together to have important conversations or to make critical decisions but they fail at sticking the landing.

The problem: We cut corners in designing our meeting agenda. As a result we end meetings abruptly (e.g., “Well, our time’s up. Thanks everyone for your time and thoughtfulness. See you next week”) rather than allocating time to a more systematic wrap-up. As a result, people often leave meetings with varied understandings of what was decided. And, this comes at a cost that includes dropped balls, miscommunication, and having to revisit the very same conversation or decision at a future meeting.

The goal: In leadership terms, “sticking the landing” means concluding the meeting in ways that ensure four important outcomes:

Clarity – We are leaving the meeting with a shared understanding of what was decided.

Responsibility – We have affirmed the specific actions team members are committed to taking, including what and with whom we need to partner and share information.

Tidiness – We have identified any loose ends, emerging questions, and pending issues to address in future conversations.

The fix: Concluding your meetings to achieve these ends means committing to the three steps and the use of a simple note-taking tool

Step 1: Build a minimum of 15 minutes into your agenda to ensure a systematic wrap-up of the meeting.

Step 2: Establish a standard meeting note-taking template like the tool below and assign a rotating note-taker among team members.

a. Decisions: What did we decide or conclude today?
b. Actions: What actions / assignments are coming out of today’s meeting (who, what, by when)?
c. Notify: What needs to be communicated to anyone not present (who, what, by when)?
d. Pending: What loose ends, emerging questions, or pending issues do we want to make sure we capture for our next meeting?

Step 3: At the conclusion of the meeting have the note taker read through the template as team members confirm, correct, and amend the outcomes of the meeting.

These essential meeting disciplines are particularly important during a time when many of us are working remotely. We don’t have the luxury of impromptu conversations in the break room to follow up on what happened in the last meeting.

When it comes to “sticking the landing” as you conclude a meeting, what strategies work for you?

Image Credit: Gabriel Rodrigues on Unsplash

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