People spend most of their time thinking about their own initiatives. Therefore, the biggest mistake we can make is to assume that one meeting, email, or discussion, has them thinking about how to help us with ours. It does not work that way – Lack of follow-up kills the majority of good plans.
Recently, a sales person called on me and was finally able to get through. We had a good discussion and I believed their offering had potential. Of course I did not make any decisions during this initial call, so I am sure that my file was notated as needing a follow-up. As a buyer, my thoughts are that if I never hear from this person again, I win. It confirms any doubts I had about them or their offering, and it is one less thing for me to deal with. Sounds negative right? Sadly its true. Now, if the sales person is a good sales person and continues to follow-up until they get to the next step, I begin thinking more and more about them and their offering. Their follow-up validates them, and without it, I surely am not thinking of them or their initiatives.
This concept has an even stronger application within Leadership. Every so often we draft new budgets, goals, and many other plans, and notate many to-dos related to each. We also have discussions with our team throughout the drafting process, and at the time of launching the new period when these should go into effect. However, execution needs to happen swiftly, and it likely has not even started if we have done a poor job following-up. Our follow-up confirms that change is needed and that we are serious.
To not follow-up, creates the expectation that there is no need to pay attention to new initiatives. To briskly and consistently follow-up creates the expectation that goals and plans are not put forward without the expectation of execution. We all want the latter, and so do those we lead. The other benefits of good follow-up:
- It sharpens the listening skills of our audience – people pay attention when they know there will be questions to follow
- With consistency, the need and frequency of the follow-up is less – when people expect others to act, they become more proactive themselves
- We spend more of our time ensuring progress is made, rather that coming up with additional plans that end up just sitting on the shelf
- We become predictable in a good way
Take time to look at the new goals and initiatives of your organization. Has the right amount of follow-up occurred to really kick off the required changes?