How Important are follow-ups?


Early in my career, while I was liaising between our consultants and my management, my boss appreciated my follow up skills.

She said I was diligent, rigorous and thorough. And this always stayed with me like a reward.

It wasn’t a glamorous job profile. My job was to get updates from partners, and senior consultants who worked for our firm and, on another end, get data and updates from other senior management staff of our own.

The challenge for me was that I was just an engineer in my early 20s ( not even a management grad ), while on other ends, my job required me to ask difficult questions, data, and detailed reports from BU heads, stalwarts in their respective fields, with over 2 decades of experience. Along with other tasks, I and three other colleagues had an important task to get updates from them.

Follow up emails were marked in cc with big bosses, so they usually just politely say they would do the needful and get back but we would hardly hear about it in time. I would set up a meeting with their secretaries and often wait for hours before they attended me. Waiting at their office, I would smile and strike a conversation to ease the tough ask that would follow.

I made friends with my bosses’ secretary, who was friends with other secretaries and would scoop me in about schedules and who just walked in where. I admired all of these seniors for their skills and learnt a lot just by observing them. Many times while waiting I learnt interesting facts and details of that particular department and operations. Eventually, I joined one of the departments as a key account manager and learnt all about the basics of sales.

But why I am talking about it now?

What seemed menial and tedious task of following up changed the way I looked at my professional life. It was personally frustrating and directionless, which I complained about at home, but I thank my stars for this valuable boring professional experience today.

Why did I write about this now?

Today is Monday, and since morning my WhatsApp and emails are buzzing with client managers asking pointer, reminders and follow-ups to Account Managers. Some of them annoyed me, and I asked myself why? Because they lacked in above mentioned 5 points.

Following up is an art; please do it respectfully!

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