In the middle of the everyday chaos, between one thing and the other, great ideas get lost, and critical items that need to get done can be forgotten. Even more harmful are the thousands of little details that crop up during regular business that is left incomplete.
In my experience, one of the main difficulties at work is a lack of completion. Problems due to not following up arise any time there is an agreement or an idea to do something, and it doesn’t get done. That is when those forgotten items come back far too late to do anything about them.
Improve Follow-up throughout Your Whole Organization
Most of what happens daily at work is a follow-up: making sure we called back the person we are hiring, ensuring the financial statements are going to be ready on time, following up on whether the new website will be complete by the deadline, and beyond. And as a person becomes responsible for managing more and more personnel, the percentage of time spent on following through is increased.
From lost business opportunities to longer times of execution, the costs of not keeping track are everywhere. Therefore, it is critical to find a way to manage these open items both personally and for the company.
Here’s how you can do your part to improve your follow-up in your organization:
- Your best bet to institutionalize a method of keeping track of open to-do list items is a project management app. Most people have a system that works for them, but if you have a shared resource that everybody uses, it is much simpler to be on the same page. A project management app allows you to collaborate and work with shared to-do lists. Once this starts happening, do not do anything with your colleagues unless it is a task within your project management software.
- Anytime you discuss something with someone or participate in a meeting, make sure that open items are always documented. If not, you will always run into cases where the ball drops.
- Keep track of tasks you are working on with each person on the team. You can keep a list, for example, and check it regularly to make sure you are not falling back on anything.
- Make follow-up part of the culture. This is the final and most impactful action for improvement in this area. As people realize how valuable it is, a culture of follow-up should happen naturally.
As soon as this mentality becomes cultural, the firm will grow very fast in terms of execution. Everybody starts doing it and they are now following up with you. The only problem is that now the game is upped for everybody. Others will demand more from you, as you demand more from them. What was previously an Achilles’ heel now becomes a company strength and a competitive advantage.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated and recirculated for 2021.