Where most leaders, parents, managers, and supervisors fail is because of their lack of follow up. Seems we have no problem identifying what needs to be done, such as task to accomplish or deadlines to meet. We seem to be able to assign those tasks and delegate them to others so that the tasks we need to accomplish begin getting completed. If only this was enough, wouldn't that be great! Everything done exactly as you had assigned it out. Finished perfectly and completed on time as expected. Well that's what you expect isn't it? Don't we expect that when we assign or delegate out a task that it be completed on time and to perfection as we described it should be? Of course we do. But guess what, you're kidding yourself if you think this is the way it works. What's worse than kidding yourself, you've probably already found out that you are being held accountable for the work you assigned out that didn't get completed on time or even done at all. Now you are feeling the pressure of dropping the ball and now you find yourself gritting your teeth and commenting your frustration under your breath.
Hold it right there! Before you go any further, before you take your anger out on this person that failed so miserably at accomplishing the task you assigned to him... let's take a look at where YOU dropped the ball as the supervisor. Did you follow up? Did you check on his work as he progressed through the task, or did you simply give out the task and hope for the best? Look where that got you... In deep trouble!
I think it's always important to remember that the task to be completed is assigned to YOU. If you choose to delegate it out, fine, good leaders always will, but the task is still yours to complete on time. Just because you assigned it out doesn't in anyway eliminate the accountability place on you to accomplish the task. Even more so, you are now at risk, because you are counting on someone else accomplishing your task correctly and timely. How in the world can you not follow up and ensure that the task is not done correctly? I've listed some common reasons that we as leaders use in justifying in our minds why we didn't follow up.
- Shouldn't have to, these are managers I'm assigning these task to, they know and understand that this is important, they are in positions of leadership and they should just do what they're told to do. ( my experience... always follow up, you never know... you may not have communicated the task very well and they may think they are doing exactly what you told them to do.)
- I trust them, they are dependable people, I can count on them. (my experience... it's good to trust them, but they make mistakes, they are busy with other task as well, they may not understand the importance of the task like you do, and sometimes people just forget things. Always follow up to see that things are happening.)
- I don't have time to follow up. (my experience... you don't have time NOT to follow up. The time you spend fixing the mess that other can create will make you think twice about following up. It's always saves time to follow up periodically. This will save others time and you time and ensure the best production of all involved due to not having to backtrack or begin again in a new direction because they mis understood)
YOU get what you INSPECT, not what you EXPECT. This is a true leadership principal that will save you time and money if you'll only follow up better on those you supervise. The benefit of good followup is two fold. Not only do you see the job get done correctly and on time, you allow a closer relationship between you and your subordinates. Each person you supervise wants you to see what they do for you. They feel good when they know they have done the job correctly, but what they really want is to know that you know they did it right. By following up this gives you the chance to give out the praise and the "pats on the back," for a job well done. So through your follow up, you ensure the job gets done and you also have the ability to teach, mentor, and praise those you supervise.