‘What doesn’t get followed up, doesn’t get done’.
As a trainer of Recruitment Managers this is probably one of my most favourite phrases. Why? Because after role modelling, holding people accountable is the next most important skill to being a successful manager. Follow up is an essential part of accountability, it is such a small thing to do and when done efficiently can make the biggest difference. If we just made more time to do it.
When you set an action or ask someone to do something for you, if you do not follow up, you are sending them a message that what you discussed wasn’t important and actually you aren’t that bothered about them doing it. If you consistently don’t follow up, then people will consistently not do what you ask of them. You get back what you put out there, right?
Being a recruitment manager is one of the most challenging roles in the industry, you have to hit your own target and develop your people to hit theirs. Your time is stretched and you often feel like you are being pulled in a thousand different directions. Well if you just make one commitment to follow up on everything you set, I guarantee you will have to spend less time setting actions in the future. Why? Because people will know what you want from them before you ask. And they will do them. Why? Because they know you will check.
Here are the 7 most common situations when follow up is forgotten:
- Daily objectives being achieved and day plan executed – do you know how your people are spending their time? How do you really know whether they have done what they said they have?
- Making an improvement in one area e.g quality of jobs – have you checked back to ensure they are only working quality business since your discussion?
- Setting a target – when did you last check in on their progress? Long term targets need to be kept alive regularly otherwise they become meaningless
- Attending a training session – what did they learn and how are they using it? Was the money you spent, well spent?
- Actions set at a monthly review meeting – do you start each meeting by reviewing the actions you set at the last? Are you sure the actions aren’t the same actions you set every month? What is actually changing as a result of your action setting? (actions are NOT KPI targets)
- Goals and actions set an an Appraisal – the most common area for lack of follow up. Do not wait until the next quarterly or yearly appraisal to follow up. Check in monthly that they are making progress with their Development Plan otherwise the appraisal was pointless.
- Client/candidate meetings – was there a tangible outcome? If not, why not? Did that tangible outcome ever materialise? Did they follow up after the meeting?!
The key to follow up is not just asking someone whether they have done something because it is easy for them to say yes. You need to know the answer before you ask the question and have some insight to bring to the conversation. We don’t want to treat our people like children but we do want to help them develop and holding them accountable for actions and commitments is a vital piece of that growth.
My tips are to:
- Set/agree the action – put this in an email so both parties have a copy (make sure these actions are SMART)
- Agree when and how you will follow up – send a diary invite
- A couple of days before the date above, do your own follow up to check progress – put this pre-follow up task in your diary
- Follow up & recognise what they have done (if the action has not been done, you need to understand what has stopped them, it could be a variety of reasons so seek to understand first)
Following up isn’t about being ‘big brother’ and pre follow up checks aren’t done to try and catch someone out.
The principle of follow up is only done with positive intent – to help someone progress and be the best that they can be. Otherwise why would you have set the action in the first place?
Remember if you don’t follow up you are devaluing the activity or action. Or worse de-valuing the person who has done what you asked of them and is waiting for you to follow up.
What gets followed up, does get done!
By Hannah Keep – Expert Recruitment Trainer – after a very successful career in recruitment working her way up to Regional Manager, Hannah now heads up the IOR’s Training Academy while running a very successful training consultancy boasting a client base of some of the most respected and high performing agencies in the industry.