In my work, I interact with many different remodelers, usually about how to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. Here is a message a remodeler sent his Remodelers Advantage Roundtables group for some advice.

“Somehow, this question seems like it should have been asked 10 years ago, but here I am on a Sunday morning, still trying to perfect how I keep track of all the action items, follow ups required, statuses, etc. Examples: assignments I give via email, verbal agreements, next steps on projects, etc., both of what I'm on the hook for and what others are on the hook to me for. I'd love to hear how others manage this kind of information.”

Several members suggested electronic information management tools. Here is what I wrote for the member’s consideration:

“Irrespective of the tool(s) used, here are some principles that would be good to keep in mind.

  • What action item is going to be done by Who and by When. Anytime an action is discussed and written down, end the discussion with that being decided. If the action is huge, break it into smaller pieces with shorter due dates.
  • Have a master Action Plan. We had ours organized by Sales, Owner, Administration, and Production. Meet with an accountability partner monthly to help you stay focused on this.
  • Construct weekly Action Plans with your key people. Every week I met with each person I managed. I had a separate pad for each one, but software can be used instead. Every time we began our meeting we reviewed the manager’s list and my list of what the manager was to have done the week before. If it was done then line it out, praise them, and move on. If it was not done then negotiate a more realistic timeline or decide if the item no longer needs to be done. After reviewing the due items we moved on to laying out the new items, describing for each What by Who by When.

Personally I did the same thing for my week and then adjusted it day by day. Always focus on results, not activity.

The key here is discipline, taking the time to review, update, and celebrate incremental accomplishments. I cannot stress how important sticking to a regimen of accountability is. So do a monthly overall review, a weekly review with each manager/direct report, and finally with yourself daily and weekly.”

Is your company activity oriented? Then there is no need to engage in these practices. Do you want to be accomplishing desired results personally and with your team? You can’t do that without doing what I am suggested. What gets agreed to and tracked gets done.