Chances are you know of at least one person who has recently made a grand statement regarding a desire to change for the better, and then never heard another word about it. If this same person is in the habit of making such statements with no real show of change, you may see them as lacking in character or determination, or weak and ineffectual.
If you're trying to improve, do you want to be seen this way?
That's why follow-up is an essential aspect of your self-improvement. But most people don't do it. Or don't do it well.
Why is follow-up important?
Effective follow up reminds and demonstrates to others that you are putting in real effort to improve and (just like thanking) it helps to keep you honest and focused. It also shows others that you care and value their opinions and ideas.
It is said that actions speak louder than words for a reason. People are more apt to believe and support you when they witness actual change in you. It doesn't matter how many times you say you're going to do it—after feedback, apologizing, advertising, and thanking, none of it matters without proper follow up.
Without follow up, your efforts just seem like the latest flavor of the month.
The follow-up serves as the all-important bridge between understanding that you need to improve and actually doing it, using the tools decided upon to get you there.
HOW TO FOLLOW UP
1. Identify who will you follow up with
It can help to enlist a personal coach. This could be a co-worker, mentor, friend, spouse, or even a professional life coach. As long as the person is interested in your life, has your best interest at heart, and can communicate with you regularly, they can be a great coach.
But don't limit follow-up to your personal coach. Ask other people around you for feedback and suggestions, too.
It's a good idea to follow up every month or so.
When you know you will be following up with others, asking them to focus on your efforts to improve and assess how well you're doing, it keeps you focused on your improvement.
3. Identify what you need to improve
Start with a few simple tasks related to one to three areas you need to improve. Then develop a list of questions that can be used to measure and evaluate your efforts. Think of the answers to these questions as your "progress report."
The feedback you get from following up won't always be positive. When this happens, stop and reflect on the steps you've taken so far. Be honest with yourself, are you putting in your best effort? Don't get discouraged; instead, let honest feedback drive your momentum. Take courage, you can't get better without follow up.
Have you failed in the past due to a lack of follow up? How do you think things would have been different if you had? In our latest discussion on the Marshall Goldsmith Channel, we’re talking about follow-up and the kinds of questions we need to ask.