Strategy execution practices – Promoting a no follow up culture
Strategy execution best practices:
Follow ups are known to be a “routine” practice at most organizations to ensure things get done. Whether between managers and reportees or among peers, follow ups are considered almost necessary to get things accomplished. Needless to say, the amount of time spent here eats into one’s ability to be “productive”, apart from fueling frustration. This apart, an innate culture of follow ups is bound to hamper the ability to service customers in some form.
So why are follow-ups the norm?
The person has way too many things to do
Very often, we tend to overlook that the stakeholders we want collaborative help from are running behind many things. So, it is imperative that we “communicate” with the stakeholder(s) the importance of the work and how it affects the overall objectives. It is a step forward that we need to take to enable the stakeholders prioritize among the various things that they’re chasing.
Then, there are a set of folks who would term every activity as “urgent” & “priority”. Over time, whatever work comes from these folks are not taken seriously and they land up, many times, like the boy who cried wolf
What’s in it for them? Stakeholders who “owe” us work are but merely customers offering an exchange of value. How we “thank”, “reward”, and “recognize” their contribution as well as “repay” them would determine how they react to our needs the next time round.
The person needs help to complete:
Even though a person may be extremely willing to get our work done, (s)he may not really know “what” exactly it is that we require or “how” to go about getting it done.
Again, the impetus lies with us to ensure that we provide them sufficient know how of what exactly it is that we require, how we visualize the output and what essential components we would need as a part of the output.
Even assuming that we give the work to a person that has the required “competencies” to get it done, it is still important for us to call out, in as much detail as possible, the context in which (s)he will be required to apply the skills to get the job done. Time spent towards “enabling” one’s work shall certainly have higher returns than on using the time for mere follow ups.
Organizational political dynamics:
Several times, work to be provided to ‘X’ is always assigned a higher priority than that which is to be provided to ‘Y’. This usually occurs due to the formal / informal power of individuals and skews priorities that in turn have a negative effect on organizational objectives.
Ensuring that prioritization is done based on the “organizational impact” of work rather than the individual assigning the work is a key step towards negating this effect.
Ability to say no & ability to prioritize:
While it’s one thing for us to communicate “importance” & “value”, it’s quite another thing how the stakeholders would perceive them. One’s habit of saying “YES” to everything and the inability to prioritize is another key contributor to one biting off more than they could chew.
Bringing in a “culture” of prioritization through objective impact value assessments of every piece of work, would make it easier for one to be able to choose what to work on and in what order.
Team wins and social networks:
Steps to work as a “cross functional & strategic team” rather than “individual or functional team” goes a long way in sensitizing the importance of every function within the organization. The notion of “no one wins until everyone wins” is essential for one to appreciate and contribute to the other’s success.
Promoting social networks & relationships across the breadth of the organization shall foster a culture of “oneness & unity” which in turn shall help the formation of strong alliances. This by itself would result in a strong competitive advantage for the organization, since not only will it get things done without follow ups, it would begin to think and accomplish greatness beyond expectations.
The person just doesn’t care:
Irrespective of the number of times one is told about the importance of what is required and efforts are made to enable performance, if the response still remains lax lustre, do consider the possibility that the person isn’t just “engaged”.
In essence, the key things from observable behaviours that impact a no-follow up culture are;
- Clarity in communication of end objectives
- Evincing buy ins and building a consensus
- A culture of objective prioritization
- A culture of enabling performance
- Rewarding and recognizing contributions
- A thrust on forging collaborations & alliances
Obviously bringing about a “cultural change” isn’t easy! For all the stakeholders to “behave” in a way that is beneficial to the organization along all the 7 parameters stated above requires a well managed “change” and “transformation” process that is contextual and persisted with over a period of time for the organization to see the benefits!