Opinion by Thought Leaders
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Why Communication Follow Up is Critically Important

 

The follow-up: it's been a mainstay of the business world for decades. But this gesture of courtesy seems to be going by the wayside more and more. Could be a generational thing, or it could be because we're increasingly being pulled in all kinds of work, digital and social directions. But more on that later. For now...why is communication follow up so critical in the business world, not just among executive leaders but at all levels of an organization?

As Chron puts it so well, it's not so much that communication isn't occurring (it is), but the deficiency lies more in the follow up. A critical communication skill is honing the ability to learn to identify the deliverables or follow up tasks that all parties may have previously agreed to, affirm commitment to those tasks and then follow through to ensure the tasks and commitments have indeed been carried out. Without the second half of that equation, there is no accountability. Without accountability, what is the purpose of having a plan in the first place?

Follow up is vital because it:

  • Keeps everyone accountable.
  • Ensures stated tasks get done in a timely manner.
  • Expresses renewed interest in the matter at hand, as well as the people involved.
  • Shows you care enough to check up on the status.
  • Displays integrity and strength of character -- two big qualities in business.
  • Reiterates the plan so everyone can review each task or deliverable.
  • Ensures everyone is on the same page.
  • Reduces the chance of mistakes and misleading statements.
  • Keeps you front of mind for your clients.


People are being reduced to commodities, says Entrepreneur so eloquently. In today’s marketplace, you have to be different. You have to stand out. How can you do this? Get great at follow-up. It's becoming a lost art but you don't have to be resigned to that fate. The heart and soul of the follow up in communication is "connection." You want to maintain a business connection, of course, but you also want to maintain that personal connection, that special something that ties you to another person. Pay attention, gather information and then use it for the follow up. If you're following up with a client, for instance, state the reason for your follow up, but also touch on something personal. Ask how their daughter is feeling if the last time you spoke your client mentioned her child was home with the flu. Ask about that vacation they took to that resort you recommended.

These are all connections, and they matter.

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How To Build An Effective Team For Success

 

Building a team is much like building a home: brick by brick, step by step. The first building block is exceptional leadership. From there, everything else will fall into place with the end result being a pretty even blend of both an art and a science. A leader who can consistently build high-performance teams is key to the success of the whole operation. Large and small, companies need someone with the knowledge of building long-lasting teams -- something many managers can't do and the reason why many leaders don't reach the highest forms of success. Forbes puts it this way: it requires the ability to master the art of people, knowing just how to maneuver hundreds of people at the right place at the right time. 

Akin to a game of chess, building an effective team takes strategy and a little bit of luck, with strength at the forefront even amidst the knowledge that the wrong move could cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nothing like pressure, right? Well, leaders operate their best under pressure. Building a team is just another day at the park for top executive leaders. So, how can you get there? Let's take a closer look.


Focus on Roles

A thorough selection process brings long-term benefits, even if this means you spend more time recruiting than you have time for. Hiring someone just to have bodies in the room can imperil your team, points out Entrepreneur. You don't want to run the risk of becoming a revolving door, whether that's because prospective employees view the role as a temporary landing pad and don't really want to put in the investment of learning, or because you realize later that they won't make a good fit. Either way, time is money. Invest resources in people whose roles truly match with objectives set forth by your company. Often, this isn't something that sticks out on their resume. No candidate will say "I'm only aiming for this job as a stepping stone to something better." Often, this takes gut instincts on your part -- another quality of a great leader.


Play to Strengths

Understanding what each individual member's strengths are allows each person to shine. It's rare for an employee to vastly improve on a deficiency, especially if that deficiency is just a part of their character. A team member who isn't good at managing details will probably never be good at that task. But if you play to their strengths -- perhaps they're great at communication with clients -- and pair them with a detail-oriented team member, you'll shore up both parties.


Encourage Transparency

Just like families, teams need to know how to work things out on their own. You can't be called in to referee every little disagreement. When things start going off the rails, bring together those who aren't getting along and make them work through their concerns, suggests Inc. Letting them put you in the middle of a he said/she said situation wastes your resources that could be better spent elsewhere (like making money for your company). Your job as a leader is to help your team members understand each other better. Sure, it will be uncomfortable at first. Such transparency is always raw at the beginning. But instilling this strategy right off will encourage them to try resolving internal issues on their own, only bringing you into the equation when absolutely necessary.

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