After countless days of wondering, I finally do it. I finally garner the courage to follow up with an associate who hasn’t responded to me in 4 days. Yep, four days..which in my world is a lifetime. During that time, I have thought of her on five different occasions, pushed back our project by 3 days and halted another one coming in, unsure of what direction she wanted to take our work. I have side tracked other work and painfully watched my email, waiting….and waiting……and waiting. All she has to do is respond, answer a simple question about next steps and send it off to me. Did she get the email? Did she forget about me? Did she push send and the internet trolls ran off with my email? No one really knows, because she didn’t follow up.
I wonder all the time if people get my emails, heard the voicemail or ever received the text. With how little people do what they say they are going to do, it is a wonder we get anything done at all in this world anymore. Because not only does crappy follow through affect the direct work we are doing with each other, it trickles down and impacts other relationships. While I wait for someone to respond, I have to hold up work of another, in fear that I overload myself when I finally hear back from the first client..yeah, that one with bad follow through. One person alone is affecting dozens and the epidemic seems to be growing.
To be honest, nothing drives me crazier than someone with no follow through and all I seem to be running into are people just like that. Leaders and owners, managers and spouses..people who just don’t have it in them to complete what they started; albeit a conversation, response, decision, action or process. They drop the ball and if you are one of them, keep reading.
Understand that follow through is not something you were born with. You were born you and many of you reading this article are leaders; owners, bosses, managers and decisions makers. You were born with small and large doses of distraction. At times you can jump from one thing to another and other times get stuck so hard in making a decision, you never make one. It has to be hard to feel so stuck, disorganized and challenged. Steeped in so much crazy, that simple requests become mind boggling dilemmas that you can never answer, process and move forward on.
What Is Going On?
Indecision: By far, this is the number one reason why people fail at follow through. Most likely you will find the other two on this lacking in your world in some way, but indecision is what ultimately drags you down. Whether it is due to lack of information, protecting ones feelings or guilty about what has to be said; you freeze up and shut down. Further movement stalled out in the cycle of doubt, fear or insecurity.
Missing Tools: There is a lot going on these days; whether you hide away or live in the middle of the hustle and bustle, life is busy and you just can’t expect to remember everything. Tools like calendars, schedules, CRM’s and Asana are all good examples of self/project management tools to help ensure you don’t drop the ball and forget to follow through on something. Because saying you just forgot about it, isn’t cutting it anymore.
Lack of Focus: Some people get focus confused with indecision, but it is totally different. While indecision about the answer or response is what keeps you cathartic, lack of focus keeps you from even getting close to beginning to make a decision. Keeping focus long enough to take the necessary steps forward can’t happen because you bounce faster than a tennis ball. Sitting down to write emails, making the call, sending the text or dropping off the bags are much too long of tasks to stay focused on long to complete.
What Do You Do?
Identify which handicap is stronger in you than the others. While leaders with follow through issues generally have all three traits, one always leads. It will run deeper and bigger than the others, usually the place you have avoided the longest.
Once you have identified the train that drags you down the most, start to create the systems that will be necessary to fix it. Systems are the key to not only identifying the right behavior, but confirm standards about how to do what you need to do.
For example, you may identify the perfect calendar app, that works just the way you work. However, without creating a system for how you use the calendar, that includes things like timing, consistency and updating, you will have just found another thing to take up more space on your homepage.
Being like everyone else has never been that good of a strategy. In this case, it could be detrimental to your time, money and longevity in your business. Be different. Take a stand against all those unanswered emails, un-returned texts and decisionless decisions. Move forward and follow through; today, tomorrow, forever.