Follow Through

Do you have “follow through”?

When I say follow through, what I mean is that you can be trusted to do what you say you will do – on your own. One very important lesson I’ve learned is that it’s critical to find people that you can trust to follow through with what they tell you they will do when choosing partners/employees in a startup. It’s also critically important that you can be trusted in this regard as well.

Startups by their very nature have limited resources. Because of this, it is more important than anywhere else that startups are as efficient as possible with these resources. The most valuable resource for a young company is the time of the employees/founders. Since everyone is forced to wear many hats and there is always more to be done, time is often a bottleneck.

If you can’t trust your employees/partners to do what they say they will, then you’re forced to spend cycles on their problems. Suddenly, you need to keep track of their tasks so that you can be sure that they complete them all. You spend extra time checking up on the status of items to make sure they’re being done on time. And most importantly, you can’t give them very much freedom to do their tasks and make them their own because you’re constantly having to check up on them. This ends up wasting a lot of your time and a considerable amount of theirs. You basically end up doubling up your resources on these problems, which is not an efficient way to do things.

Instead, make your first criteria when choosing partners/employees their ability to follow through with what they say they will do. If you can’t trust them enough to assume that they’re doing what they say they will do then you should probably start looking elsewhere. A young company simply can’t afford to have resources piled up on a single problem. You can’t be second guessing other people in the company constantly or you’ll find progress slowing to a halt over time.

Find people you can trust to follow through, then give them the freedom to do it. It’s the most efficient use of company resources, and a lot less likely to cause blow ups between coworkers stepping on each others’ toes.

Here are a couple quick things to test if you trust your coworkers/have follow through:
1.) Do you find yourself frequently doubling back on a task to check the status of an item? For example, do you send a lot of emails like: “What’s the status on ______? Did this ever get resolved?”.
2.) Do you find yourself often asking people to run stuff by you?
3.) Do you find yourself constantly worried about other people’s tasks?

These are solid signs that you don’t trust these people to “follow through” on their required tasks. So make you and your company more efficient; find people you can trust and give them the freedom to complete the tasks on their own. It’ll make all the difference…

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