GTD Performance, Personal Branding & Follow-up
You may not believe this, you may not even see it, but avoiding the
face-plant of no follow-up is the single biggest move you can make to
avoid losing your own personal power or brand at work. This is true
whether you are the leader or the led. By-the-way, your likelihood to
focus on next can be your downfall when it comes to follow-up.
First let me share two quick stories, and then I’ll explain what I mean.
Story 1: The first story (these are both true), occurred when I was in high
school. I was in the “out of town” high school bleachers, which means they
were about 1/10 of the home side. It was a football game with the cross-town
rivals, and during half time some guys ran across the field from the other side
and apparently tried to steal our cheer leader’s pom poms, or goose them or
something. It was hard to tell amidst all the yelling and commotion.
They ran back across the field and one guy on our side stood up on the
sidelines and yelled to everyone, “Come on guys, we’re not going to let them
get away with that.” He then wheeled about and began walking across the
50 yard line toward the home town bleachers. The band hadn’t taken to the
field yet for half time, so he had an open path. Can you picture it?
He was intent on next, looking for some justice if not vengance. Thousands
of people in the stands staring at him didn’t seem to shorten his stride.
He did, however, forget to check (follow-up) on whether or not anyone had
heeded his call and was following him. Thankfully apparently somewhere
mid-field this thought must have occurred to him, as he was seen peering
backwards over his shoulder, only to see no back-up. Where are those
legions when you need them, anyway?
He was last seen veering off to the shadows behind the goal posts on the side
of the field. I thought, “Boy that must have been embarrassing. Could have
been worse!” It made an impression for the rest of my life… obviously since
I’m telling you this story. But let’s go on to story 2, it gets better.
Story 2: I’m working with a CEO to launch ManagePro as the management
software for their business. As we enter and exit the launch meeting with
the management team, count the number of no follow-up face plants that
1. The CEO hasn’t followed through on completing the final adjustments
to the business management design in ManagePro, so the layout looks
incomplete and not sufficient to their team. Score one face plant.
2. The CEO starts the meeting late and leaves early, without clarifying
exit expectations, nor following up on the fuzzy expectations the next day
or the next week. Score two for one.
3. The staff, sensing they have landed in no follow-up land, act out in
the most common three options: direct defiance, passive-non-compliance
and engaging in adolescent distractions… its a circus, but then that’s
what happens when there are no follow-ups. I’m busy trying to not get
stepped on by the elephants or in the stuff they leave behind. Score
multiple face plants and counting.
It doesn’t take much skill at guessing to estimate what the effect was on the
power of that launch. The face plants decimated the launch. No one took
it seriously. One person was even doing hand tricks on the side. I’m not
Lack of follow-up can lead to embarrassing outcomes, and to inadvertently
teaching those to whom you assign tasks, that they don’t have get it done …
at least not until you begin following-up. Either way, the performance
outcome is not good, and what’s worse, we lose personal power, our requests
and intent lose leverage, and our respect meter slips downward.
So, enjoy my stories, but it would be even better if you and I learned not to
do the face plant of no follow-up. It doesn’t matter how tantalizing
“Next” is, don’t skimp on the follow-up. I know this is hard for all of
us entrepreneurs, visionaires, deal guys, sales people… the list goes on.
If I could flip this in reverse, I would write it this way. It’s very simple.
To avoid losing personal power when working with others, only assign what
you are prepared to follow-up. Maybe that will register better. There are
any number of things to do to build your personal brand (be brilliant, be
timely, deliver big outcomes, be insightful, be trustworthy and connected),
but this is the big number one thing to avoid so that you don’t lose the
personal power you work so hard to acquire.
Not following through when it comes to our own commitments, and not
following-up when it comes to tasks we assign to others, are both must-avoid
face plants that dramatically reduce the power of our personal brand. In
fact its one of the quickest ways to lose power and teach others to disregard
what you request. Do yourself a favor, only assign (to yourself and to others)
what you are prepared to follow-up.