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.