Consistently failing to follow through isn’t just bad for your personal credibility. It’s bad for your bottom line.
Whether you’re making good on a promise, enforcing a company policy, or even just responding to an email, lack of follow-through is one of the quickest ways to destroy confidence, loyalty, and trust.
And this isn’t only true for employees and staff. It works with consumers and clients, too.
It’s all about the finish
Have you ever watched a truly great athlete swing a bat, complete a pass, or sink a sweet jump shot? If so, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: a strong follow-through. The same is true in business. You won’t be successful by committing halfway.
Because no matter how big or talented or dedicated your team is, they will eventually lose faith if you don’t pay attention to details and come through when they need you to.
Trust takes time to earn, but it can break down alarmingly fast. Effective leadership skills can help you keep this from happening. Here are three ways to make sure your follow-through (or lack of it) isn’t hurting your credibility, your team, or your organization.
Keep your promises
Remember that time your dad said he’d take you for ice cream if you cleaned your room, but then he puttered around in the garage until it was too late to go? Of course you do! Pops may have long since forgotten, but to 5-year-old you, that was super traumatic.
The same is true for your staff. Something that may seem inconsequential to management could be a big deal for employees. If you need a demonstration of this concept, try explaining how “The ice cream will still be there tomorrow…” to a disappointed toddler. Be prepared, though. You’ll need some earplugs.
Long story short: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. And when you do make a promise, be sure to hold up your end of the deal.
Few things are more maddening than screaming into a void, and few things are more demoralizing than feeling unseen or unheard. Not responding to emails, phone calls, tasks and requests is equivalent to saying, “I don’t care about you or your needs.”
Perhaps this isn’t your intent at all. Maybe you’re just consumed with other things, or you don’t have a good answer yet. That’s okay. A quick response to acknowledge the person and set expectations for what comes next is usually all that’s needed to keep the peace. For a while, anyway. If you use this tactic too often without ever providing real answers or solutions, your team will feel even more unheard. Because now they know that you are aware of the issue, but choosing not to address it.
Yes, being a leader means you’re busy. But it also means you have the power to delegate. If you don’t have time to handle a particular employee or customer issue yourself, get someone else on it. And make sure they follow up with you regarding how and when it’s been resolved.
Be fair and consistent
Timely follow through isn’t always foolproof. No matter how quickly you respond, if you handle the same situation a different way each time, you’re going to drive everyone crazy. Including yourself.
Inconsistency breeds fear and resentment, both of which lead to inaction. The quickest way to paralyze your team is by being scary and unpredictable. And a team that’s afraid to do anything isn’t going to be very productive or innovative.
Develop organizational standards, processes, and policies that are in line with your company culture, vision, and values. Then follow through by applying them evenly and consistently.
Doing so will make it much easier for you to be the strong, consistent leader you aspire to be— and the one your employees aspire to work for.
Is your benefits broker also a compliance consultant? What about a trusted business partner? Are you confident your policies and processes are doing what they need to ensure that your company—and your employees— are healthy and productive? At Raffa Financial, this is what we do for Washington DC area employers every single day.
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