Do you often find yourself frustrated with the fact that people do not deliver on their promises? Have you recently asked someone to do something only to have them completely ‘forget” to accomplish the task? Are action items piling up at the office and slowly starting to drive you crazy with the lack of resolution? If you answered yes to any of these questions then it appears that you might just have a problem with the art of following up. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to witness Clay go off on a 15-minute laser show regarding people’s inability to get anything done. One of his clients asked a question regarding how to get better at closing when ideal and likely buyers don’t respond. business coach Clay replied, “You make them respond. You force the issues because inherently all people want to do is talk and not actually get anything done”. And he’s exactly right. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with this same situation in various parts of life. Employees that promise to complete a task but don’t, customers that say they’ll buy but resist to close, friends and family that promise to be on time but can’t seem to grasp the core, fundamental basics of tardiness versus timeliness. So what’s the fix? How do you get people to hit deadlines? The answer is far simpler than you might think. The true secret to getting anything done is really all in the act of following up.
How could something that sounds so simple be so effective? Let me explain it so that a simpleton such as myself can even understand. In a typical environment, someone in charge will either assign or delegate a form of action to an employee, or rather, they will state to a large group of people that a vague idea needs to be accomplished. The result of this is undoubtedly the large group of employees will assume someone else is going to get the job done and at the end of the day, not a single person has gotten any closer to completing the assigned task. So what could the higher-ups do to ensure that their tasks are more likely to get completed? They need to follow up and assign the actions properly. It’s much easier to maintain productivity when people know exactly what they’re doing and have a source of accountability to answer to.
How does one properly assign action?
In order to ensure that your action items can be completed, it is imperative to only assign CLEAR and actionable items. Vague ideas with no proper way to execute are doomed to fail from the beginning. One of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned from business coach Clay has been the art of assigning action items. Whenever he needs something done he specifically chooses ONE person to be responsible for the task. He then gives clear details as to what the task in particular is. These tasks are always concrete and clear. Lastly, he gives the exact date he expects the job to be completed by. This eliminates the “I didn’t know what to do” or “I didn’t know how to do it” arguments.
You’ve assigned the action. NOW FOLLOW UP!
So you’re finally to the hard part. Now that the team has clear action it’s on us as managers and leaders to ensure that the sense of urgency is not forgotten. Clay’s super business coach move: follow up at least once a day. This isn’t to make the action get done faster than the due date, but rather to constantly remind the owner of the action item of the importance of the task. I’ve even seen Clay follow up multiple times in one day regarding one item. Remember, it’s not about “micromanaging”, it’s about ensuring the task at hand gets completed so you and your team can move forward and on to other pressing matters.