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Under-promise, Overdeliver

Follow up? Or follow through? What’s the difference? Does it matter?


Yes. Yes. A lot. And yes.


Your team, your Manager, and your organization look to you as a Leader to make sure that things get done. In a manner of speaking, that’s your job . . . to be sure that things get done. How you go about achieving that directly correlates to your leadership style. You might be a put-your-head-down-work-hard-be-tough kind of Manager, you might be excellent at delegation and rallying your team to work together to produce results, or you might set the standard through leading by example. Regardless of your style, if you want results, you must follow up and follow through.


Following up relates to taking the necessary next step to move toward a resolution. Following through indicates that you are going to see the process to completion. Both are necessary to building and maintaining trust with your team.


For example, your organization is implementing a new company intranet which will act as a delivery mechanism for company announcements as well as training modules. Your team has questions – a lot of them, in fact – and the platform is so new that some of its features haven’t been fully developed.


Following up means finding answers to their questions: “Will I be able to access the training I took three months ago?” Yes, you can find those videos on the “My Training” tab and FAQ documents in the Training Library.


Following through means ensuring that they have the knowledge they need to be successful: Our L&D Manager will hold a training session next week to walk you through the new platform. After that, I’ve scheduled one-to-one meetings with each of you to talk about your individual progress.


Given your crazy calendar and multitude of responsibilities, what actions can you take to ensure both follow up and follow through?

  • Be realistic. When your team asks for or when you want to deliver something to your employees, you must be conscientious of the reality of the request and the response. What do they want? What do you want to give them? Are either of those things achievable? What is your timeframe? What other obligations do they have, do you have, or does your department have? Be candid with your team members, with yourself, and with your superiors about what you can provide.

  • Be transparent. The fact that things don’t always work out how you expect them to be is a huge understatement. When you hit a snag, let them know as soon as possible. If you don’t have the answer to a question, tell them that you don’t know and give them an updated deadline as to when you expect to have the requested information. In short, communicate with your employees, communicate thoroughly, and communicate often.

  • Be honest. After the “ask,” be candid about how well you followed through. Did you accommodate their needs? Did you fulfill your commitment? What could you have done differently or better? By accepting feedback, you express humility as well as satisfaction in the job done.


In short, follow up and follow through are both different and necessary to the success of your team. Remember: always best to under-promise and overdeliver than the other way around.

scrabble spelling of "deliver"


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