6 Ways to Become Skilled at the Follow Up
Leaders get things done. They are action oriented and always moving towards the finish line. As all of us know, when dealing with other people, other organizations, and other teams, many times the project or initiative bogs down because "you haven't heard back from him" or "she never emailed me to confirm" or "I'm still waiting on them to send over a fax" or "I called and left a message, but don't want to bother them again." When other people get involved besides us, things get more complicated.
If you want to truly get things done, you have to become skilled at the follow up. Here are a few things I've learned over the years:
1. It's always your responsibility to initiate. Obviously if you are the one asking for something, then you have to initiate. But even if you're just part of the project or one of the steps in the project, you need to always feel responsibility to initiate.
2. We're all busy. Never take offense or get your feelings hurt because someone hasn't responded to your initial invitation or request. Very rarely is a lack of response personal. It's just because people are busy.
3. Figure out how best to get an answer. Many people don't return phone calls anymore, but if you text them, they'll get right back to you. Be smart. Customize your communication if you want a quick response.
4. Make it easy to get a response. Make sure it's one step to confirm or respond or get you the information you need. Don't make folks jump through multiple hoops in order to get you what you need. Remove all the barriers.
5. Create a deadline. Make sure you are very clear in your initial request and in your follow up what you are asking for, as well as when you need it. Sometimes we forget to create urgency and expectations alongside the request.
6. Aggressively pursue until you get a yes or no. If it takes 5 emails, then send 5 emails. If it takes 3 phone calls, make 3 phone calls. Get it to the finish line.
What are some of your secrets in regards to following up and getting things done?