Follow Up or Foul
takes a lot of effort and energy to follow up on all of the tasks and directives
that we, as leaders, assign to our subordinates on a daily basis.
If we fail to follow up,
then much of what we expected to be taken care of will not be. We may insist
this should not be the case...but it is.
And, there are reasons for
this. We can't just call it human nature and forget about it, or accept it.
Don't agree with what is
being asked of them
Don't think it's
very important and will have no impact one way or the other
Don't think their
boss really cares whether it gets done or not
See that there are
no consequences for not getting it done
Are too busy
completing other, seemingly more important, tasks
directions from the boss seriously
leader, give this a few moments thought. Here are some questions to guide you.
1) Are most of my
instructions actually followed?
2) If my instructions
are not being followed, why?
3) Am I often
frustrated and angry when I discover that something has not been done?
4) Am I often
embarrassed because something important has not been done?
5) Are my instructions
being ignored due to lack of respect for me?
6) How much more
effective and successful would I be if my subordinates were to do what I ask
with little or no follow up?
In our experience, we find
that leaders who fail to follow up will not excel in their position. They will
spend a lot of time being frustrated, embarrassed and angry until they have a
majority of employees who do not require follow up...employees who take care of
We've told you about a study
by Bain & Co., which pointed out that while 80% of CEO's involved in the study
declared that their companies provided a superb level of service, only 8% of
their customers felt the same. This is very likely because the CEO's gave, or
approved, directives that were never properly carried out. And, of course, there
was no follow up to ensure the directives had been properly executed.
In retail organizations, where
you have several levels of individuals issuing directives and assigning tasks
which have to filter down through the ranks and into the field to get to the
customer facing personnel, you have to have top notch follow up mechanisms in
Follow up does not, and should
not, equal micro management. Of course, at times it does, but that is only due
to the leader's inability to communicate clearly and put a strong follow up
program in place.
It should be noted that follow
up will be much more successful if the leader has communicated clearly in the
first place. This means defining the task/directive, conveying the importance of
getting it done and, usually, explaining the benefits (or the 'why) of
completing the task. Issuing directives that are difficult to understand, or
appear to have no benefit to the store or company, will undoubtedly make any
follow up process more difficult.
Making sure your
directives are executed properly.
First of all, the leader must
have made it known that there will, indeed, be follow up in some form or
another, and that there will be consequences for lack of execution. This is not
something that should have to be verbalized, it should be something that has
become apparent through the leaders actions in the past.
When a leader finds that there
are subordinates who consistently fail to execute properly, then that becomes a
performance concern and should be dealt with as such. And, when a leader finds
that there are subordinates who consistently execute properly and do not require
follow up because they always get the job done, they should celebrate these
No employee, regardless of
performance in other areas, is above following the instructions of his/her
superior. Of course, there should be open communication which allows
subordinates to be heard; to present ideas; to push back for certain reasons; to
provide the leader with information that he was not aware of, but, in general
the chain of command exists for good reason.
As seen in many organizations
where everyone does whatever they see fit - following some instructions and
ignoring others - chaos ensues. In cases like these, there can be no uniformity,
no standard image and, very likely, no brand recognition.
leave anything to chance...follow up.
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