Do You Have A Follow-Through Problem?

If you are like most leaders, you have a follow-through problem. You may not realize it, and it is costing you revenue growth and profit margin. As a business coach I have had the benefit of observing leaders of many high-growth companies. While many of these companies are on Fortune magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies year after year, they could be growing faster and definitely more profitably. From the long view these are highly successful people and organizations. As you look closer, you find that, like all high performers, they have opportunities for improvement. This article discusses the issues that commonly cause follow-through problems in an organization.

How Often Are You Changing Your Decisions?

When a decision is made, it should be made based on certain assumptions, directed by key questions that were answered using facts. Once you have made a solid decision, you should only change that decision if new facts invalidate the answer to your original questions, or your find that you missed a critical question that could be catastrophic to the outcome. However, this should be an exception not the rule. In many organizations decision changes are all too common, and not because there was any evidence that the original decision would cause a catastrophic change in outcomes. As a result, the organization loses a lot of time and money failing to follow through on solid decisions in a timely manner and rethinking the same decisions over and over again.

Are You Trying To Lead By Consensus?

I find that leaders often change their decisions because they want consensus, believing that consensus is necessary in order to have commitment to the decisions that are made. In order to gain commitment, it is necessary to permit everyone to be heard and to allow for healthy debate. Once this is done, you should have the commitment you need. Immediate consensus should be less common than you think, and when you get it, beware. It means that you probably have a bunch of “yes” people in the room, or you have failed to actively engage everyone in the discussion. It is a mark of strong team when there are diverse opinions on important topics. The most senior leaders need to be able to elicit these different opinions, listen to everyone’s position, and then make a decision. The rest of the leaders have to be strong enough to accept that their views will not always be accepted as the right way to go. Even if you are right, and the team goes in a different direction, that is how things go.

Are You Clear On How Much And Which Information Is Required To Make The Decision?

Do you ever find that a decision is made and a few days later everything changes? Worse yet, weeks later things change again. Leaders will blame this on entrepreneurship and the nature of business. However, if you look closely, when this is occurs often it is a leadership decision-making process problem. When you watch how decisions are made, you will see that most people-leaders are problem-solvers. They look for the first problem they can solve, and off they go. This may work with little issues and problems. It does not work with the bigger ones. Before embarking on a new project or deciding to invest in that new system, there are few questions that need to be answered that I find are often overlooked:

  • What factors are the key assumptions that will be used to make our decision?
  • What questions need to be answered in order understand each assumption?
  • Are we going to say yes regardless of what we learn?
  • What information is needed to answer these questions?
  • How fast do we need to make our decision, and what are the consequences of waiting?
  • What is this decision’s priority versus all the other important decisions that need to be made?

Are You Allowing Side Discussions?

This is another follow-through and commitment killer. It is critical that all decision-makers and influencers in the room. Otherwise your project is going to start and stop and reshape. You will lose a lot of valuable time and lose everyone’s trust. It is important to have everyone together so that everyone feels heard and can respond to each other’s positions. Some of your leaders are masters at being passive aggressive. They have found it advantageous to get you alone because they know that no one else can challenge their positions. They prefer not to be challenged, and they think of themselves as above everyone else. This needs to be stopped.

Do You Finish Discussions, And Do You Make Them Final?

There are some leaders that do not let things end. You need to see a discussion through to its end and make a decision. This is a real problem in many organizations. When you have a habit of decisions not being final, it makes it very hard for people to charge ahead with action plans. They have no confidence in you. Once you have shown a tendency to vacillate on decisions, you are branded. Your team is going to wait to see if it really sticks. This means valuable execution time is lost because your people do not trust you.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at (305) 722-7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

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