Every manager will be familiar with the concept of miscommunication. How often have you had these situations:
You THOUGHT you had been clear.
They THOUGHT you meant this when you meant that.
Everyone left the meeting on the same page … but somehow things went off the rails.
Three people left a three-person meeting with three different impressions!
One of my lessons learned over the years is to always ensure that a meeting is documented after the fact. It gives one more opportunity to ensure there was no miscommunication, to identify areas of confusion and to have a document to look at in the future, should the issue need to be revisited. Some obvious examples might be:
In the case of a status meeting with an employee … I would get them to document back to me all actions that were agreed upon. The act of capturing the actions will bring clarity to the employee and remove “wiggle room” should any of them not happen.
In the case of a meeting with multiple participants I would suggest the “nearest to the action” person document the meeting, identifying all key decisions and action items, together with any timelines and allotted responsibilities. eg. A sales situation involving delivery and management might result in the sales person documenting the results.
It has always been a good business practice that salespeople document their client meetings … but so many don’t do that. Typically it is a lack of commitment to doing things the right way. Unfortunately it can lead to miscommunication, finger pointing and does not serve the best interests of the salesperson’s employer nor their client!
Any group meeting that does not result in a shared document misses an opportunity for clarity, for accountability and for a record that can be revisited in the future as needed.
So the take away is … adopt the practice of documenting meetings to ensure that everyone is one the same page. It saves a lot of grief! If you are a manager then hold your people accountable to that standard too!
“Paying attention to simple little things that most men neglect makes a few men rich.” Henry Ford