Follow-up is Fuel for Accountability

World class organizations hold themselves accountable as part of a daily process.  Each member of the team makes commitments and then delivers on those commitments as a responsibility to the whole team and the overall strategy, BUT it probably wasn’t always like that.

A leader had to teach the team how to be accountable and the only way to do that is with constant…. constant… constant follow-up.

Following up on a process, a project, or even a person’s commitment, teaches two very critical foundational elements of accountability; the commitment is real and the person making the commitment can do it.

The commitment is real

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” is a common example of how children can be, especially driving to a destination they are excited about. It is sort of their way of following up… relentlessly.  The adult in this case is the one who made the commitment.  

The adult has two options; 1. Continue to answer each inquiry when asked; Are we there yet? – No. Are we there yet? – No. Are we there yet? – No. or they can offer the child a map or in extreme cases, their cell phone with GPS of the route to give them constant updates on progress, potential traffic, and expected arrival time.   

In operations, the leader actually plays the role of the child. Are we there yet?  The person making the commitment has the same two options. They can answer each time asked, or they can develop a way (GPS), to update the leader and show progress and road blocks to the commitment.

The key is that the adult with an impatient child knows one thing for sure that the persistent child really wants to get there.   The commitment was real.

The person making the commit can do it.

It may feel like babysitting to follow up with an employee on what should simply be their responsibility, but some people make commitments without the confidence to believe they can deliver. They may have felt pressured or more likely they may feel it will go away if they just lay low and let time pass. 

By frequently following up, the leader is saying; it isn’t going away, it is important and if you need help I need to know. 

Time does pass and some commitments do seem to fade away as a leader just grows weary of waiting.  But that is far less likely if you simply ask early and often.

Help your organization learn accountability by simply following up early and often on commitments your team makes.  Eventually they will get there and you won’t have to follow up as much. 

But you have to ask yourself, “Are you there yet?”

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is also the founder of UTV Advisors, a business consulting firm based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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