How to Take Action and Develop an Action Oriented Culture

take action get resultsWe recently had a new employee start on our executive team, and her fresh take on things is incredibly valuable for us in our quest for continuous improvement. One piece of our action-oriented culture that I have taken for granted was especially interesting for her.

Recently at our executive off-site retreat, we had a lot of discussions on strategy and the direction of the company. Throughout the day we touched on many topics, and there were several times when an attendee was asked a pointed question about their process area (HR, finance, contracts, etc.).

Before anyone was allowed to leave, we took the time to assign action items to each person who had a request sometime during the day. There were several dozen actions assigned among the various participants, and nobody (including our CEO) walked out without an action item, a due date, and a scheduled follow up plan.

For us, it was a standard meeting, just with topics of broader scope.

For her, it was a peek into a world of accountability and an action-oriented leadership team that she hadn’t previously known.

Normal Isn’t Good Enough

Talk is cheap.

Many organizations have a leadership retreat, but their people don’t walk out with a list of actions or a scheduled follow up plan. More often, they just walk in, enjoy a day away from work, chat about some “pie in the sky” ideas that will never happen, and leave to go straight back to the same work they did before the event.

We are very action-oriented. We don’t create actions just for the sake of them, but if someone needs to check something out that is critical for their area or has an impact on the leadership team, then that action item is assigned with a planned follow up date set immediately.

Then, we brief the status of our actions in biweekly meetings or weekly huddles. There’s a clear line of accountability, and actions are tracked within a SharePoint list (a basic database format).

That also affords us an extra benefit of transparency and history of prior actions. We can search for items and keep track of when “action x” was taken in the past, along with any notes or ideas that might contribute to a speedy resolution of the current action.

Getting Started

Want to start moving in this direction? It’s fairly simple. You just need to be assigning formal actions with due dates, tracking those in an open location where team members can add updates or notes to the actions, and the�most important piece is following up on those actions with the stakeholders to keep you accountable.

To be honest, there are times when it can be annoying having to brief others on your own area. But the key here is seeing them as accountability partners, not babysitters. They want you to succeed, because that will lead to the organization as a whole being more successful.

Anyone else out there have a strong, action-oriented culture? I’d love to hear about how you keep people on track.�

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