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Marshall Goldsmith blog - The Solution to Boost Productivity

The Solution to Boost Productivity

09 Sep 2019

Top executives are generally strapped for time and therefore very action-oriented. They like to quickly tick off tasks on their to-do list and move on to the next pressing issue. Interestingly, this can lead to a behavioral tendency that doesn’t always serve them well. 

The Problem

Leaders often believe that their organizations should operate according to a strict down-the-chain-of-command routine. In their ideal world, every order and delegated task would be executed immediately and precisely as they wanted it. No follow-up is required, because once it was said, it would be done. While this works for simple tasks, the approach reveals its limitations fast when it comes to complex matters. 

Consider the example of a CEO with the task to communicate the company’s mission to his team. He could assume that laying out the mission once in a team meeting is sufficient, that everyone has now understood it, internalized it, and will subsequently act on it. The duty is done and he can attend to other urgent matters. However, once some time has passed, the CEO is likely to be disappointed with the lack of understanding, action, and results.

The Solution

You, as the executive coach, can help leaders recognize this false belief and guide them in changing their behavior. The good news is that there’s a simple solution to this problem and it’s called follow-up.

Here are some questions that can help executives follow up with their teams effectively:

  • Have they fully understood the message and what needs to be done?
  • Do they have any objections and concerns that should be addressed?
  • Is there sufficient buy-in?
  • Are they committed to execution? 
  • Do they have the resources required to reach the desired outcome? 

We can’t stress the importance of consistent follow-up enough. It’s the force that nudges people from merely understanding something to taking action. When executives make it a habit to follow up with their teams, they not only become more effective leaders but also achieve outstanding results for their organizations. 

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