The follow up is probably one of the most important parts of your job. As one can see from watching politics, the greatest of Presidents, leaders, have done what they promised, and those less than great have promised the world yet failed to deliver the goods. I will go over why it is important to follow up and some tips you can do to help you in this process.
It is truly about engaging your team. I know in management it can be difficult to be everywhere at once, handle everyone’s issues, and be able to have all the answers. Nobody is asking you to nor do they expect it but what they do expect is that you follow up. Your team needs to know they can ask you to do something for you, whether it is gather intelligence, check on a current employee’s benefits status, review someone’s time card, or even to grab them something from the office, etc. and you can come back with that information or item or at least where or how to get it. You do not have to do it immediately but any kind of follow up should be done in the same day. If it is a larger task that will take more than one working day, you still need to follow up with your team at the end of the day that you have not forgotten about their concerns but you are still working on it. This builds trust between you and your team. If they know you’re on it, they do not have to concern themselves with it and continue doing their job. It is your job to ensure your team has the tools to succeed, so follow up with them.
Write It Down
A great tip for being able to remind yourself to follow up is by keeping notes. One thing I like to do, especially if I have a million tasks I am doing at once, is take notes of what needs to get done, if they have a deadline, who to follow up with on that, and so forth. I will do this during staff meetings, jot down key points to take back to my men, whenever one of my subordinates come to me with an issue that I do not know the answer to, I will write it down, get in contact with someone with the answer or where to find it, and get back with my employee. It has been my experience in the Army to ensure I always have a pen and paper wherever I go because you never know when you will need it. I will be honest, I do not usually need to write anything down because I am pretty good at remembering but it is always good to write it down anyway just in case you get caught up in another task. Plus, if you get a lot of the same questions or situations, if it is written down in your notepad, or saved on your desktop, you can easily access it to have the answer right there when the other person needs it.
Set Reminders and Deadlines
With smartphones the way they are now, it is really easy to set reminders to make sure you do follow up with Joe Employee on his pay status before he leaves for the day. You can also set deadlines for yourself to follow up with your team, especially if you have a deadline for a certain process or product. Let’s say you have a huge project due by the end of the week. You can make deadlines to follow up with your team as a whole or individually, on certain days leading up to the deadline to ensure you have everyone’s input by the due date. Using technology, like a tablet or smartphone, as a daily planner is a great way to ensure you are following up with your team as well as ensuring you are hitting your deadlines. If you are not very tech savvy, you can use daily planners, notebooks, and calendars to jot down notes, deadlines, and reminders.
Following up is truly an important aspect to any leadership role and needs a lot of attention ensuring it gets done. My employees know that even if I do not have the answer, I know where to find it, and no matter what is going on around me, I will follow up with them. It may not be immediately but it will be timely. Make sure you do not blow smoke up your employees but you do as you say. If you say you will take care of something, take care of it, don’t just give them lip service because they will take notice and you may never regain their trust.