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The Essential Ingredients for Follow-Up and Follow-Through

Here are the three critical elements of the effective post-meeting feedback session


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Most business meetings end with an action plan: 

"Go forth and make it happen"

– sometimes, elaborately spelled out, and other times, not so much. Yet, the essential ingredient to ensure you can be successful and, in fact, make it happen is sometimes missing.

Meeting leaders and organizers need to add another, equally crucial item to the post-meeting mix: Feedback.

This type of feedback is far more than the tyipcal check-box, "What did you think of the meeting," evaluation sheets, usually left on participants' chairs or distributed to the meeting members at the close or shortly after the meeting. Those sheets provide grades and impressions. While evaluation forms serve a purpose, it's important to dig a little deeper for actionable feedback aimed toward improvement and better outcomes.

How do you gather meaningful feedback and follow-through? Convene a formal, scheduled session focused on the meeting itself. Such a sit-down provides the opportunity to discover:

  • What your team members found valuable about the meeting
  • What aspects of the meeting went off track
  • What could be improved in the next meeting
  • What, if anything, the participants found missing or lacking

Just like the meeting in question, the feedback session requires some planning and preparation on your part. Here are the three critical elements of the effective post-meeting feedback session:

1. FIND YOUR FEEDBACK ZONE

Don't rush it – Schedule the debrief meeting when emotions (good or otherwise) have cooled. Choose a time and place when everyone feels comfortable and rested.

REMEMBER: Feedback zones are positive zones. This is especially true if there was a problem within the meeting. Your feedback session will use your team's collective energy and spirit to create an environment of learning, not blame.

2. CLARIFY YOUR INTENT

Make sure your team understands the purpose of the feedback session. If your people know you've convened the session to learn, they will be motivated to look for areas of improvement.

REMEMBER: Use the WIIFT approach: What's in it for them? This is a powerful motivator – and a good reminder that as their leader, you're motivated to help them improve performance. Guiding your team with WIIFT puts everyone in a mindset to focus on their contributions and how to lift those contributions to the next level.

3. EXPRESS APPRECIATION 

This is always important – and especially if the meeting was problematic. It's all too easy to dwell on mistakes – and that's a mistake in itself. By thanking the team for its accomplishments and commitment to your organization, you're guiding them to look at the big picture, the larger goals and ambitions, not just a slip-up.

REMEMBER: You're the leader – of the feedback session, as well as the meeting being reviewed. An important part of your leadership is to show the team that you recall and can give voice to their accomplishments and virtues, not just their errors or deficiencies.

With these three guideposts shaping your post-meeting feedback sessions, you will show your team you're ready to dive deep into the details of the meeting, to address both positive and negative issues, and learn from each other. 

Together, with your team, you will learn how to put the knowledge and understanding acquired during the feedback session to work, as part of your leadership arsenal. And then you can successfully make it happen.


Marjorie (Margie) M. Mauldin, best-seller Feedback Revolution author, national speaker and Denver-based Executive Forum’s founder and president, works with Fortune-100 companies, government agencies and municipalities on leadership and feedback training – helping them improve their results, outcomes and business relationships.  For more information, visit ExecutiveForum.net or ilovefeedback.com. For questions, please contact Mauldin directly at Margie.mauldin@executiveforum.net.

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