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27 Jun 2011

Follow Up! People Aren’t Light Switches 2.0

My initial post addressed the importance of managers following up with employees. I suggested that managers who believe giving instructions only once to employees removes the onus from them are poor managers; we should treat them as such.

In the May 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Professors Tsedal Neeley and Paul Leonardi discuss this point: Effective Managers Say the Same Thing Twice (or More). However, they emphasize that effective managers proactively did this. They did not wait to observe whether employees carried out their instructions. They soon followed up their initial instructions with a redundant communication.

Proactive follow up is also more important than authority. Their research found that managers who did not have authority were more effective than those were with authority if they proactively followed up while the others did not. Managers with authority often assumed that authority alone was enough to motivate.

Of course, this should be no surprise. What these effective managers are doing is no different than what advertisers do: repeat their message. It also means that proactive follow up or, as Neeley and Leonardi say, redundancy could help all employees enhance their informal organizational power. If they don’t have authority, adopting proactive follow up practices would help them accomplish things without it.


Related link: Follow Up! People Aren’t Light Switches


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