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How do you make people do what promised

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  • How do you make people do what promised

    Hi, GTDers!

    My @Waiting list has 143 items and keeps growing. How often do you remind people of what they promised to do for you? What do you do when there's no result for quite a long time? I experience that they stop answering my calls when I over push them with my attention. I want to keep that risk to the minimum.

  • #2
    It depends...

    Things to consider:
    - Have I been very clear about what I need and when?
    - Did the other person agree to deliver by a certain time?
    - How important is this for me?
    - How important is it for them? What other priorities, deadlines might be more important?
    - What is their history of delivery?
    - Is this the only way - could I ask someone else?
    - What leverage can I apply to get it done:
    - Is there anything I can do for them?
    - Can I use social pressure - ask them in a meeting?
    - Could someone else ask them - maybe with a closer relationship, or their boss?

    In some cases, I remind people once a week - either in a regular meeting, or via email if we don't have a meeting scheduled. In others, once a month is appropriate. In some cases, if the priority is theirs, not mine, I will never remind them and drop the waiting for if it doesn't happen over a few months.


    • #3

      This is a great list of areas to think about. I've copied it to my GTD reference files


      • #4
        Fantastic set of questions, Paul.

        I'd just add that in most environments, priorities change rapidly. Something that seemed like a really great idea in a meeting 3 weeks ago - so it made sense to track it as a waiting-for item - may simply no longer be as relevant or productive, today. I've often found myself going through my @waiting emails and feeling that pressure to follow up (I'm WAITING FOR this! It has to get done!)... but sometimes, upon reflection, it doesn't have to get done. I just need to acknowledge that and remove the item from my list.


        • #5
          Sometimes people agree to do something but have no idea how to do it. So I ask. Did you do XYZ already? Oh, you are working on it, interesting. What's your next action? Ah, uhm, did you ask Marc how he did it when he did it the last time? Maybe we can meet-up an brainstorm a few ideas together? (Note: I am never explicit about the GTD methods, I just use them to get them going.)


          • #6
            Try to ask questions to open them up first, understand why they are not doing what you've agreed - maybe their boss has imposed higher priority work on them, or they are stuck for ideas on how to move it forward, and some brainstorming conversation could help.


            • #7
              I agree with all the above. While invariably not everyone that you deal with (sadly) will be using the GTD methodology, you can surreptitiously impose a GTD approach on them - ie, help them work out what the very next action is.

              In terms of frequency of follow up, I've built 'follow up my waiting fors' into my weekly review. I don't necessarily follow up each item each time, but it means I have a weekly sweep of that, and then it's out of mind in one go.