As I continued to come up the ranks as a new manager, I constantly
heard focus group feedback about how lack of follow-
through by leaders and managers was a key point of frustration
for teams of employees. Whether it was to solve a problem,
answer a question, or do some customer research, it didn’t matter—the
same managers’ names came up time and time again. They were building
a reputation—and not a good one.
Communication and follow-up are extremely important. Your
ability to follow up with employees, clients, or peers is one of the
clearest indications of the effectiveness of your organizational skills.
When people are continually apprised of your progress, assumptions
disappear and stress is greatly reduced. Even if deadlines must be
extended or your progress isn’t as far along as you’d hoped, your ability
to communicate that clearly to all parties builds trust in the fact that
movement is taking place.
Your online calendar should be a haven for follow-up appointments.
As soon as you ask someone for something or they ask you for something
by a certain date, your next inclination should be to immediately add
it to your calendar. Then, the pressure is off of you to remember. Once
you do this a few times, it will become second nature. Specific examples
include calls to return or email responses. For email requests, many
online calendars allow you to embed the actual email request into the
calendar appointment itself. Now you’re beginning to manage your
An important point to consider is to schedule these followup
deadlines and appointments before they are due. If you owe
your manager a presentation by five o’clock p.m. on Thursday, the
appointment should not be seen for the first time at five o’clock on
Thursday. You can use pop-up reminders or audible cues (alarms) if
you are using an online calendar tool to your advantage. If you’re still
using a written calendar, you can use color coding or symbols to address
urgency or action needed.
Your calendar is an important proactive tool to manage your followup
items—not just the due dates, but the actual time to work on them
and provide periodic updates to the person making the request. Be
the leader who gets things done. Build the confidence of your peers,
colleagues, direct reports, clients, and business partners, and never have
their confidence in your ability to effectively follow up questioned.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
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