Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them. Exodus 39:43
Follow-up is necessary for effective leaders. It is necessary in your work and family. It is necessary as you manage and hold others responsible. Follow-up means you care about the person who is performing the task and you care about the work being done. You follow up with your children because you care for them too much not to stay involved in their lives. They may seem distant and disinterested, but you still follow up. Relationships retreat for lack of follow-up.
Ego and pride resist follow-up and expect others to initiate, but people forget. People do not place as high a priority on your activities as you do. They may even commit to a certain time, but because of busyness, fail to follow through. Extremely active people need more follow-up than is normally necessary. You may feel rejected when a person appears disinterested. They may be, but you are responsible to provide gentle reminders and reengage them at a more robust level. Effective follow-up is as much an art as a science. Yes, have a systematic style to your communications, but do not badger people by bombarding them with too much, too often.
People do better when you “inspect what we expect.” So, take the time to inspect. Create margin for inspection and accountability. Follow-up is an appropriate time to revisit expectations. The longer disconnected expectations are left unaddressed, the higher the probability for misunderstanding and failure. Frequent inspection leads to clarification and correction. Small adjustments along the way defuse frustrations and avert subtle surprises down the road. Do not assume that someone understands the first time. Don’t assume you understand the first time.
Make sure everyone is on the same page and that there is a coalition of efforts and resources. Also, be willing to adjust, as thinking and engaged people will discover a better way of doing things. Encourage and reward their wise and resourceful innovation. Follow-up frees people to give much needed feedback. Above all else, make sure the project and the process revolve around God’s principles of work and relationships. It is imperative that everyone be aligned around the Almighty’s agenda. His way is the best way; so do not compromise the non-negotiables that define the values and mission of the enterprise.
Follow-up keeps a focus on the purpose of glorifying God. Follow-up is for the purpose of wise stewardship, excellent communication, and affirming accountability. Use your frequent follow-up as a way to bless the other person. Make the follow-up of the transaction or task a small percentage of the conversation. Use this excuse for relational engagement to find out about the person. Listen for their fears, their frustrations, and their dreams. People want to know they are cared for before they care to listen. Follow-up leads to follow through, all for a greater purpose than any one individual.
Use your faithful follow-up as an opportunity to bless others on behalf of God. For example, Paul wrote out expectations and then followed up in person. “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).
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© 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
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