How to follow up and improve results

April Sabral

/ Leadership

Talking with leaders everywhere the question always comes up “How do I hold my team more accountable?” FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP FOLLOW UP”

Whether your a district manager leading a group of store managers or a store manager leading a team of sales people. Your job as the leader is to cause your team to move into action and improve results.

We all want our team to improve.

The difference between great mangers and not so great is the fact that they build high achieving responsible teams of people. Teams of people that are telling their manager in advance if they know they may not meet expectations because their sense of ownership is so high that everything they do now feels like its their own business.

But how do great leaders do this?

They make it look so easy and because of this its not always easy to figure out and emulate what they do. However its something that everyone leading a team can learn and when practiced over and over again will sustain high performance and improve results.

Have you ever heard the phrase Inspect what you expect. This is a very simple saying but so powerful when used daily. So what does inspecting what you expect actually look like?

It means to follow up .There are many ways to follow up with your team one could be by asking if it is done, one could be send me snap so I can validate and the other could be to stop by and ask multiple times multiple days in a row. I am sure there are a few more examples you can think of.

This sounds easy and straight forward right? It is.

So why do so many managers struggle with this and when asked to hold their team more accountable they say things like I don’t want to be to hard on them, I am worried about them quitting, I don’t want to pressure them I am sure you have said this or heard others say this at some point right?

So instead of thinking like this ,what if you changed your thinking to this…

I want to follow up on my team with what they are doing because I care enough about my people and customers to know if its going well or not and help them do the right thing.

High performers like to know if they are doing things the right way. If not they like to be told what could be done better because like I said high performers like to do things right and achieve what the company is asking of them and these are the people you want on your team. People that care if they do it right or not.

Following up and holding your team accountable means that you yourself must first be clear and then let them know when you will be following up.

Once that has been established then follow up becomes easier to do. However holding your team accountable is never easy but there are ways to follow up through asking powerful questions that engage your team with the “end in mind” thought process.

This process is one of the steps of creating a culture of accountability. However to get there you must get comfortable with asking questions. Because following up is not just checking off a to do list, its more than that. Its how you can find out where the gaps are and learn about best practices to share with other team members. And this is what we call leveraging each other and building a high performing team.

One of the easiest questions to ask is WHY? but using WHY can be quite challenging WHY? because it causes managers to do less talking and more listening which most are not comfortable with.

Because I know the power of this and how it will impact your leadership I wanted to share my favourite questions to ask when following up on any team member.

I guarantee if you try these questions for 30 days you will see your team shift the way they do things. You will find yourself following up less and your team taking ownership and providing you in advance progress updates before you even ask.

  • Why did you do it that way?
  • Why did you approach it that way?
  • Why did you think that was a better way of doing it?
  • Why were you not able to achieve what you wanted?
  • Why did your team misunderstand what the expectations were?
  • Why did you forget to update me if you were going to miss the deadline?
  • Why didn’t you ask for help?
  • Why does your team do that?
  • Why are you struggling with?
  • Why did you choose not to?…
  • Why did you choose to?…
  • Why is it not done?
  • Why did you use that resource?
  • Why didn’t you use your resources?
  • Why is your team all over the place?
  • Why is your team not focused on?…

I could go on and on and on. Because WHY is such a powerful engaging question and one that pulls out the managers thought process behind the decisions that they have made as well as any admissions or opportunities. And if you can do that imagine the different type of coaching you could provide on a daily basis to your team.

I think to be good at this you need to be very curious as to what you see and how it came about versus what you see and who completed it.(even though this is very important too).

A manger in charge is solely responsible for all decisions good or bad even if it wasn’t them that did it. WHY? because thats the responsibility of leading a team.

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