Following Up

Jerry Sauson had just received a text from his boss.  The text said simply:  F U?  Obviously he was concerned, so he went to see her.

“Ginny, are you upset with me?  I don’t understand what I did to get such a vulgar text.”

Ginny laughed.  “It wasn’t what you did, it’s what you didn’t do.  And the F U doesn’t mean what you think it means.  For your information, I’ve never used the F word in my life.  Let me tell you the story behind the F U?  message.  Believe me, everyone in the company has received that message in their career with this company.”

“Sarah, our CEO, was famous for sending her boss and others short updates.  The updates were quick reads of essential information that others needed to know.  She also provided a bullet list that provided interpretations and insights to the update.  Obviously her boss was impressed, and Sarah joined the fast track.”

When Sarah had her own employees reporting to her, she insisted that they provide the same kind of updates that she had provided.  Should one of her staff not provide an update, they received an F U? message.  The F U stands for Follow Up and the question mark indicated that she didn’t know what happened.  Everyone that got one of those messages reacted just as you did.  They never forgot the message just as you won’t forget the one you got.”

“As Sarah rose in the organization, every manager started insisting that they be provided follow up information from their staff.  All of us use the F U? message.  It’s become a rite of passage for every new employee.  Welcome aboard.  You have now become an official employee.”

Jerry smiled.  “I don’t think I’ll ever forget to update you again.”

How many of us have been frustrated by the lack of updates from those we work with?  Most of us have woken up in the middle of the night wondering about some important situation where we weren’t given a follow up.  Providing proper follow up is essential in all aspects of our lives, but it’s not a trait that comes naturally.

To be effective, follow ups need to be timely.  They need to be brief and focus on what’s really important.  And they need to provide interpretive insights to give a sense of what was done, needs to be done, concerns, opportunities, etc.  These insights are rarely provided but are essential.   Creating a follow up culture is a critical task of any leader and providing helpful follow ups is an essential skill of every employee – but one that is rarely taught in school.

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                “Diligent follow up and follow through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate
excellence.”  – John Maxwell (management author)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.