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Do we have a follow-through problem?

We’re. All. Busy. How was your week? Busy. What’s your day like? Busy. Although this is a topic for another blog post altogether, I’ve been thinking lately about how we can better define this feeling of constant “busy-ness”. A few words come to mind: overwhelmed, under resourced, disorganized, procrastination, unproductive, overburdened. These words and phrases likely resonate with nonprofit employees, from top leadership down. However, I wonder if we sometimes use the fact that we’re “busy” as a crutch when, really, we are just poor at following through with what needs to get done. This idea of constant busy-ness then becomes an explanation (read: excuse) as to why we haven’t met looming deadlines or why we avoid tackling big projects. From what I’ve seen in organizations I’ve worked with over the years, the issue generally comes down to lack of prioritization, planning and follow-through. Without these processes, then organizations risk coming up short on organizational goals and outcomes.

So how can we fix our follow-through problem and make sure things get done?

Have a plan, come prepared: Schedule meetings in advance, create an agenda and send out to participants, gather any necessary tools or resources and have an idea of what you might be missing to reach any goals

Delegate and assign: Determine what needs to be done and identify individuals for all tasks, assign roles if needed (for example, have a project manager), don’t make assumptions about who will do what and keep in mind that the lead doesn’t necessarily have to be the person in the most senior position

Have deadlines: Select an ambitious yet realistic date of anticipated completion and work backwards from there, set benchmarks for all major tasks

Hold each other accountable: Schedule regular check-ins to make sure work is on track, reevaluate if progress is way off course

Use tools: Utilize resources that work for you and your organization, anything from basic lists to collaboration apps and project management software

Create a feedback loop: Ensure there is time and space for evaluation and analysis, close the feedback loop by keeping all stakeholders informed throughout the process

Be realistic: Have a firm grasp of what needs to get done, how long it will take and what the capacity of the team is

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