The Power of Recognition

Follow-up is one of the most critical aspects of a great leader.  Change usually requires changing people’s behavior.  And changes in behavior are not natural for us, so leaders need to follow up.  Actions are the fuel for making real change. Someone usually has to act. And actions don’t always get done, so leaders need to follow up.

Great leaders have a method to ensure they follow up and spend a majority of their effort following up trying to catch them doing the right behaviors.

A Method to Ensure Follow-up

The first thing the executive leader did following a plant visit was write all of his notes in an e-mail to his executive assistant.  He would always include commitments the plant leaders made and actions they were going to take.

The executive assistant would type up a follow-up sheet with the notes organized in topics and listed on a single sheet.

On the executive leaders next visit or phone call he would always start with the list in hand and follow up on the agreements from the previous visit.

David Mann introduces the concept of an accountability board in his book “Creating a Lean Culture. “  Tasks are written on a post it note and placed on a large grid on the wall with people’s names and calendar dates.  The ideas is to formally plan the follow up during the daily meeting.

Catch Them Doing the Right Behaviors

The best leaders realize following up is about catching people doing the right behaviors and  reinforcing them.  “Great job staying a safe distance back while in line Dave.”  “Good idea putting plexiglass between the operator stations in line with the guarding policy Steve.”  The follow up is about noticing and acknowledging what is going well.

It is also about correcting the wrong behavior quickly and in the moment. “Alan we have a policy of only two people in this room at a time. You need to step out.”  There is a second layer of follow up as well based on the incident.  It may simply be an e-mail to Alan reinforcing the policy and why it is necessary and the consequences if it is not followed.  That follow up needs to be as quickly as possible after the occurrence.

Help your leaders follow up and catch people doing the right behaviors and act quickly when the behaviors are not right.


Jeff Swoyer

Jeff Swoyer

Jeff Swoyer

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