How do you use Reminders on your smartphone?
I have a suggestion for you…
Let’s talk story about a vital managerial skill: FOLLOW UP.
What if it was your superpower?
If I were a fairy godmother, and could wave a magic wand above the heads of supervisors and managers in the trenches, I would (no pumpkins into golden carriages there either).
I would instantly give them a wonderful superpower to have and to hold forevermore:
My magic wand would give the gift of precise memory recall exactly when managers need it.
My intention, would be to have supervisors, managers, and leaders follow-up without fail.
My wish, it that they take action with doing whatever they said they would do.
In my magic wand waving, the memory of promising to do something for someone else would never fade or be forgotten until the follow-up gets done. Magic comes with a price (or so they say on Once Upon a Time) and inaction would haunt. Relentlessly.
The manager who faithfully follows up, making good on promises he or she has made, is the manager well on their way to “best boss I ever had” status: Be the Best Boss
The “I said I would… (and when)” Trace File
Thus one of my favorite tools, proving its worth to me throughout my management career, is my “I said I would… (and when)” Trace File.
Hot tip: It’s very useful as a spouse/parent/sibling/friend needing to follow up as well.
I have 2 Trace File versions, 1 analog, 1 digital.
To be more precise, my analog handles my inputs, and my digital handles my alerts.
My iPhone handles the digital with the native apps it comes with:
- I use the Reminders app primarily for the follow-up I want a specific date-and-time pinging with, to prompt my action-taking.
- I use the Clock/ Alarms app on the phone for reminders in the next 24 hours, and those which have a weekly occurrence until a new habit gels for me.
Isn’t the technology we have at our fingertips wonderful?
Pen and paper never gets old though, and every manager needs an analog notebook for instant capture — Getting Things Done guru David Allen calls pocket notebooks UCTs, ‘ubiquitous capture tools’ and it’s an apt description. To save you searching time, Leo is a good short-and-sweet explainer.
The crux of it, if I may repeat myself, because this is important, is that analog gathers your inputs, and digital prompts you with alerts.
Coaching tip No. 1:
When people see you doing your capture —they see you log down a reminder to keep your promise to them— writing with pen or pencil is more polite and acceptable.
We talked about Smartphone Ho‘ohanohano in early August, i.e. Conducting oneself with distinction in how and when we focus on screens instead of people, and capturing your intentions is definitely part of that distinction. Smartphones come with assumption baggage: If you don’t specifically tell someone, “I’m making a reminder for myself to follow-up on our conversation,” they assume you’ve tuned them out the moment you look at your screen. In fact, they may not believe you even when you say otherwise.
Pen and paper, on the other hand, does lend itself to more believable transcription. Something else I’ve noticed, when I’m openly taking notes within a conversation with someone, is that they try to explain better, and give me more information to write down —they do a better job with actually helping me take future action; they coach me, and will more readily own their part.
You are an Alaka‘i Manager: Please share your own tips.
How do you make sure you follow up, and do what you will say you’ll do?
Report back, finish well, and invest in a better relationship.
Coaching tip No. 2:
When you do follow up, do not neglect finishing well. The most important part of finishing well, is to report back to the person who initiated your taking action, even when they don’t expect you to, and may not have a vested interest in what you’ve done.
They will feel respected and listened to — a Ho‘ohanohano distinction again!
Crazy, how often we managers actually take action, then lament that nobody noticed.
Related goodness in the archives:
- On Ho‘ohiki: Keeping your promises
- Jumpstart: The Simplest and Best Managing with Aloha Toolkit there is
- Managerial Batching: 1, 2, 5 and 7
- Curating Value Alignment
- Managers make promises they can keep
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