3 Ways Checking-Up Can Cause Checking-Out
Change is a delicate thing, and it soars on the wings of energy that is built with trust.
Years ago, I witnessed a leader who was asked to introduce a new initiative. He kicked off with an enthusiastic leadership call, engaging his audience with benefits while establishing absolute clarity around next steps. Everyone on the call agreed that their first step would be to provide a similar kick-off with their team by the end of the week.
The great energy waned almost immediately as checking-up began the very next day with this email message:
I know it was mentioned yesterday that each of you should roll this information out to your teams by the end of the week. If you could each get me the exact day and time of that roll-out, as well as the room number, I would appreciate it.
The next day, another email appeared:
I have not received the exact day, time, and location of everybody’s roll-out. I need that by today. I would also like for you to call me and share any changes to the presentation script.
Almost instantaneously leaders began to pull their energy back from the change initiative, and energy is critical during kick-offs.
Here are 3 ways that checking up can cause people to check out in the early stages of change:
- Leaders are engaged when they feel something has been entrusted to them. Does that mean a few leaders might not follow-up? Sure. The same ones that never do what they’re supposed to do. However, should the whole team be treated as if they are one of the low performers? No.
- “Proof” of action does not prove quality of action. I have seen a lot of leaders who can check every task list box but roll-out a terrible presentation. Just because a leader says they have done it doesn’t mean it was done well.
- Top performers are not rewarded with check-ups. When a blanket “thank you” is provided to everyone who checked the box, those leaders who went above and beyond are demotivated, and they’re the ones that will make a real difference with your change initiative.
Are there times when checking-up is necessary? Absolutely. But not right at the beginning of change. Energy is more important than perfect execution.