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Follow-up on the answers: Why?

We have spent the past seven weeks on “asking the right questions” and before that, we focused on “skillful listening.” The most important next step after listening well and asking the right questions to the right people at the right time in the right way is to follow-up on what you learned. This does not have to be complicated but it does need to be intentional.  Join me this week as we consider three reasons why it’s crucial to follow-up.

  1. Trust. When you follow-up and show that you listened and valued the input of those on your team, you are increasing trust and building relationships. I remember when one of my colleagues and I first started leading a coalition many years ago, we asked lots of questions, did lots of listening and started making simple changes that made a big difference. For instance, we asked members how often they would like to receive communications from us. I honestly don’t remember the exact number (maybe twice/month) but we immediately started implementing communication just as they had requested and we received very positive feedback and built relationships. They started trusting us – and that we would do what we said we would do. As we continued to follow-through with recommendations and decisions made by the group, the stronger our relationships grew and the more positively we were able to work together.
  2. Ownership. When you follow-up, particularly on group decisions and action items, you are creating ownership from the members of your team. Similar to the “why” post related to asking questions, when you ask and you take action, people recognize their input is valued and respected and they feel like they are part of the larger team. When people have ownership (and trust), they are willing to contribute to the team and bring their very best to the team.  This is critically important whether you have paid staff, volunteers or a combination of both. If you are going to take collective action and work together toward common goals, your team must be connected and feel like they are not just YOUR goals but THEIR goals.
  3. Participation. When you follow-up, you create opportunities for members of your team or coalition to actively participate. We all have competing priorities and demands on our time. If given an opportunity to participate – particularly if it is in a volunteer capacity – it is imperative that you create opportunities for people to know that their input is valued and that you do you say you will do. If you don’t, then people will easily get bored, frustrated and spend their time in other places. If you are struggling with participation in your current workgroups, reflect on how you are following up – or not – on the input you have requested from the members. Also, consider whether you need to put more staff time toward the workgroup to ensure the ability to follow-up. Volunteers have limited time – even if they provide tremendous expertise and skills that benefit the workgroup – their interest in participating is very linked to your ability to follow-up on what you said you would do – particularly after asking for their input and recommendations.

So what about you?  How has your team or coalition benefitted when you have followed-up on what you heard from your members?  Increased trust, ownership, participation or something else?

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