Fear of Follow-Up

canstockphoto17118886We all know that to be successful in business we should follow up and follow through on what we say or expect to happen. It’s in every book on management and leadership, it’s the glue that keeps everything together and creates accountabilities.

So why is it that when we look carefully at many organisations’ sales and service cultures, we find gaps in this behaviour? Why is the relatively simple act of following up not being done consistently or well?

One reason is FOFU – Fear Of Follow-Up. If every time you followed up on your people you received good news, then there wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, you’d look forward to it. But what’s the reality? You follow up and find out that what you asked for has not been done or it has been done to a sub-optimal level. FOFU is the fear of finding out bad news and knowing that you’d have to do something about it.

So, how do you deal with this? You either avoid follow-up so as not to put yourself in harm’s way, or you try coming at it from a different perspective. Try saying to yourself, “I’m following up because I care. I’m not checking up to find something wrong.” If you can get yourself into the mindset of: “I care. I want to know what happened because I’m excited,” you’ll be in a much better position to deal with a potential confrontation if an employee has under-performed.

Ultimately, follow-up comes down to one simple message—inspect what you expect to create accountability. But to do this you need to intervene. So deal with any potential follow-up fears by continually reminding yourself why follow-up is the right thing to do for you, your people and your organisation.

Your thoughts?

Gerry Dwarshuis is a Senior Results Consultant for Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

Cohen Brown Management Group is the internally recognized leader in sales-and-service cultural and behavioral change, specializing in consulting and training processes for management, front-line, support/customer service units and call centers. Performance Grapevine provides thought leadership insights on sales training, sales management, leadership training, time management, consultative selling, behavior change, organization change, and culture change.


  1. Alasdair McBryde 12 years ago

    I agree with this. The same applies to following through with a customer as well as staff. I had a sales person who had generated 25 online leads in her sales pipeline, but when I inspected her conversions there were none. You guessed it; she had not followed up for fear of rejection and for fear of not being able to answer difficult objections. Some coaching on how to overcome common objections fixed this and also the realisation that there were only 4 common objections released her of the fear. She thought the number of objections were endless, which of course they never are. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real and in most instances the fear is unwarranted and nowhere close to being real.

  2. Gerry Dwarshuis 12 years ago

    Spot on Alasdair and thanks for the comment

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