Follow UP is an excellent skill to demonstrate in business, but it takes real leadership to follow THROUGH.
In a previous post we talked about making a positive first impression. The most important thing a person can do after meeting someone is to send a thank you note, acknowledging the meeting. That thank you note, a follow up, is really an extension of that first meeting.
Follow up is a response to an event, like that first meeting. Follow through, on the other hand, has no ending. We may have to follow through with someone many times about the same situation, and this goes far above and beyond checking a task off a to do list.
Take the example of a bookkeeper. A client asks her to make a payment to a vendor. She follows up by completing the task. To follow through, however, she contacts the vendor to ensure they received the payment and that everything was handled correctly.
Follow through is more than taking actions. Part of being a leader is to be proactive and plan the series of follow up actions that will enable us to follow through. If we are going to follow up with someone, when will we do that? What are the possible reasons for following up, and how will we execute the follow through?
Follow through is really about accountability. What have we said we were going to do, and did we do those things? If we have not done those things, have we taken responsibility for that and renegotiated the next steps?
In business someone told me decades ago, “Never mess with an employee’s pay or vacation. Get those things right.” If we have a commitment to people to follow up AND follow through on correcting paycheck or vacation errors, our employees will stay loyal forever because they know their leadership will be accountable in ways that matter.