The Power of Follow Up

I never was all that sure of the intent when a former coach of mine used to sayhuman beings are basically sleaze bags especially you Paul. I now know what he meant and have found peace with that sage advice!

Given half the chance we humans let projects and promises drift, find sexier things to do other than the stuff we really should be doing, make promises without fully engaging with what we have committed to and then don’t deliver. We treat our word with less than substantial reverence and then we get stopped by less than formidable obstacles.  Sleazy maybe shoddy without doubt, the norm? looks like it from here.

With the above mediocre behaviour pretty much widespread, its now no wonder that the person who rigorously applies follow up principles tends to get bigger results and positive recognition.

Follow Up Principals

Tell people immediately and clearly that you will be following up on your conversation, request or instruction. Then do it! You will stand out from the crowd if you just do this bit. I will never forget being introduced to a third party by a client of mine as This is Paul, he always does what he says he will do. Aside from the birth of children one of the proudest moments of my life (Yes, I do intend to get out more)

Follow up – not check up. The difference is where your intention is coming from. To follow up is to come from an intent to support for the person and to seeing the job through whatever it takes; to keep the end game and their success in mind. The need to check up often stems from a lack of trust or faith in the relationship. The checking up mindset often gets lost in the minutia of the task whilst losing sight of the bigger picture. An interesting behaviour some brave clients admit to is delegating their favourite work and then checking up to make sure the person is failing so they can justifiably take that work back! 10/10 for honesty.

Schedule follow up activity make it happen. As a manager or leader you need to be freeing up your brain for opportunity, therefore your follow up actions should go straight in the diary so you can forget about them until the time comes to act. Electronic dairies are brilliant for his. If you don’t use an electronic diary for recording your follow up you are just playing at it.

Make responsible complaints by holding others accountable for their unfulfilled promises. Letting others off the hook when they fail to deliver or follow up as promised is in fact training them that that is an OK thing to do. Point out the behaviour and ask if that’s what they want to be known for. Chances are – not really. Just recently, I pointed out to a potential client that he had made two promises to me and not followed through on either. Was he a man of his word or not? (A risky thing to do with a prospect perhaps)? A week later he said he was horrified by how easily he makes and breaks simple promises, ‘I’ll call you later’ type promises. From now on he will be known for being a man of his word.

No plan survives 1st contact. Is a military term that compels tacticians to always have a follow-up plan. It’s a good place to come from because if you know your plan won’t survive fully intact you know you have to plan for follow up.

There is a big disconnect between knowing and doing. 70% of people who understand what personal changes to make to be more productive will change. The other 30% who also understand will do nothing. How come? Simply, when people get ‘back to the office’ they simply become to busy with the day job. If they have no one following up on their promises to themselves its unlikely change will occur.

Training (coaching, management, leadership) without follow up is just entertainment. This dawning of realisation is spreading. The Sunday Times recently ran an article to highlight the estimated £75m that British industry ‘waste’ on training that has no follow up – and therefore creates no change or shift.

And that’s why coaching works – because it’s essentially a rigorous follow up process and a ‘being held to account’ relationship.. The same principals apply for the managers and leaders who apply themselves with a coaching style. Opportunities first – followed up by follow up. Not rocket science really just good habits and focused behaviour.


Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.

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