in Communication

Better Execution With ‘No-Follow Up’ Culture

The primary focus of lean organizations/teams is to “eliminate waste”. In an increasingly complex work environment where execution is distributed between teams and geographies, one of the biggest wastes I have seen is “following-up on things”.

A typical manager’s task list will feature about 30% (or even more) tasks which are simply following up (read ‘pushing”) with others on status. I think this is a huge waste for a few reasons.

The need to constantly follow-up only means that people in the team are not clear of their priorities (or priorities are not clearly communicated). It also means they are not disciplined and accountable.

Time spent on following up is never estimated when you delegate the work. It is not accounted for, and hence results in further delays. The act of following up negatively impacts both parties – the one who is following up and the one being followed up.

When things only happen after follow-up, it gradually results in a culture where nothing is completed unless someone chases it.

So, how do you build a culture of “no follow-up” in your team? Here are a few things that I have seen working:

  1. Set expectation: When you delegate a task, define the expectations clearly and establish a “no follow-up rule”.
  2. Establish rituals: For time critical assignments/projects, set up a checkpoint ritual periodically, where you schedule a fixed time for seeking status update on different tasks. Program your team to feed you with progress details at a regular intervals.
  3. Be disciplined: Set the right example by delivering your own work without the need to follow up. Do not follow up unless absolutely required. Be persistent in your approach.

Bottom line:

Once-in-a-while is fine, but otherwise, a culture of constant follow-ups is a huge waste. When you continuously strive to build a culture of no follow-ups, you will have more accountability and empowerment in your team. Time saved for both managers and team members is a bonus!

Join in the conversation: What methods do you employ to ensure that you and your team do not require any follow-up to get things done?

    • @Jonena – Thanks. I am glad you liked the post and all the best for implementing a “no follow-up culture” at your organization.

  1. You are Spot On. Additionally if each individual considers that “Reminder/Follow up is an insult”, this helps even better. It is NOT only a matter of communicating your priorities and availabilities but also on other hand accepting it with right spirit.

    • Thanks Vipul – you add an important point. Spreading the notion that “Follow-up is an insult” can be a great way to ensure that people accept it in the right spirit. I will remember this, whenever someone follows-up with me next time :)


  2. Absolutely so! As a manager, one must strive to get individual team members into taking real ownership of his/her own tasks. Follow-up mostly kills this ownership. It may mean that you have to let team members be late, fail whatsoever – key is that you make them accountable for their own actions so that they start feeling and taking the responsibility.

    • @Anssi – thanks for commenting here my friend. I hope you are doing great.

      Act of following up kills ownership and morale’ of both parties – the one following up and the one being followed up. I personally hate following up, since it is such a huge waste of time, specially when you work in a professional environment with mature individuals.

      I also think that follow-up cannot be completely eliminated from workplace, but the less the follow-ups, more the efficiency.


  3. I tell my people that I trust them until they give me a reason not to. In the implementation of a “no follow up culture” and to piggy back off what Vipul said – perhaps I should add that if I have to follow up with with you, that should be your message that maybe I don’t trust you and yes, you should take my follow up as an insult.

  4. Hi,
    This ‘follow up’ culure is frustrating. Will you be able to help me in implementing a ‘No Follow Up’ culture in my team? Changing on company level is not easy, so I am starting with my team. Any tips/traps, ideas for implementation will be helpful.


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