Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Follow Through DNA

"I will call you next week to set up lunch".... Ever heard that from someone you know (or just met) only to not ever hear from them about the meal?


You meet someone at a networking event who gets excited to introduce you to someone in their network who needs your product or service.  They take your card and promise to make the introduction right away.  Then radio silence?


A vendor agrees to get you quote ASAP, only to get side-tracked and does not respond while you wait to hear from them?

Does this happen because other people are liars?  Are they selfish or bad people?  Do they ignore you because they are disorganized, lazy or forgetful?


These things happen (far too often) because few people have "Follow Through DNA".  They want to follow up. They intend to reach out and do what they said they would do... but they get busy with other stuff and do not realize that their promise to take action had real meaning to somebody else.  Most people mean to get back to you, but they cannot get past their own "stuff", and thus they never follow through.

We live in a society where intention is often equal to action.  People think because they desire to help others in some way, that they have successfully contributed.  To heck with the fact that they built up your hopes, they got busy and expect others to understand and not pass judgement.

We all let things slip (nobody is free of making mistakes), as we are over stimulated with information and a only have limited amounts of time.  There are simply too many choices.  Daily life can be overwhelming.  And maybe you are simply not that important when they have to make choices (this is important to remember:  We all think we are #1, but sometimes we are simply a low priority on what impacts the other person.  However, this does not excuse bad behavior if it happens over and over).

The key is the pattern.  Occasionally failing to follow up is one thing, but there are people who are known for their habit of saying they will do things that never come to fruition.  Having patience often gets one over the hump when someone else is in a temporary crazy-busy situation, but how they behave regularly is a clear sign as to what to expect in the future.

I teach the concept of "Follow Through DNA" in my speaking and training sessions.  It is interesting how it resonates with people. I often hear from people who say once they learned about "Follow Through DNA" they were surprised how often they discover that many people are lacking this trait.

While I am certainly guilty of dropping the ball on tasks, I work very hard to remedy any situation where I stumble. I also feel bad when I fail and try to learn from my own fumbles.  But I find too many people do not care if they fail to follow through, as they do not think that words said casually in conversation have any long-term meaning.

How about you?  Do you regularly do the things that you promise others?  The problem is that people who do not have "Follow Through DNA" often cannot recognize they are lacking in this area.  They see their intentions as proof of their actions.  Saying they will do something is enough to satisfy their own memory.  

When I work with professionals who know they need better skills for execution on their declarations, I encourage them to conduct an action audit.  Make a list of items your promise to do for others after every interaction.  This can be done on paper or electronically, but making a habit of recording intentions will make them real.  The next step is to check back to review if you did what was expected.  This will help you avoid forgetting what you promised, as often the things we are not doing are simple and take little time if we can be reminded.

Another good idea is to talk about this topic with people close to you and ask them if they think you have "Follow Through DNA" or if you could work to find improvement.  I have some friends who keep each other in check and support growth without critique.  

When you notice people in your life who are good at following through, cherish them as an important person in your personal or professional network.... as they are rare.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

***NOTE - I have developed a new interactive program that can be customized for a keynote, breakout or luncheon speech on the topic of "Follow Through DNA".  If your company, law firm, association, conference, or other organization is seeking a high-energy, educational and motivational speaker..... contact me at (512) 970-0398 or thom (at)

1 comment:

Stephen Lahey said...

I've found that reliability is the quality that my clients value most. Basically, they can sleep at night knowing that I will never drop the ball. "Reliability" sounds mundane - but it's actually rare and valuable.