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8 Steps to Build Trust With Your Manager (And Show That You’re Highly Dependable)

How following up on action items can help you stand out at work and have more effective one-on-one meetings with your manager.

By Keith Tatley  •   April 6, 2020  •   2 min read

One of the most effective ways to build trust with your manager is to follow-through on the things you said you were going to do during your one-on-one meetings.

Without follow-through, your manager will begin to question your professionalism and feel like one-on-ones are a waste of their time. On the other hand: Telling your manager what you’re going to do, doing it and then demonstrating to your manager that it’s been done, will show them that you are highly dependable.

In my experience, meeting follow-through is one of the weakest parts of effective meeting discipline. We all know what we “should” do, but it’s easy to fall out of practice.

Why following-through on your action items shows accountability and professionalism

I can share with you that when you’re managing employees, following up is one of the most tedious parts of the job because when employees don’t follow up:

  • You’re left in doubt, wondering if your employee has done or will do what they are meant to.
  • When your work is dependent on what your employees do, there’s an inefficient gap where things don’t progress.
  • Chasing up employees takes an annoying amount of your time and energy.
  • Chasing up work creates negative energy between the manager and the employee because the manager becomes responsible for compliance and the employee feels micro-managed.

On the other hand, few things make a manager happier than having an employee report back what they have done without having to follow up on that. When employees do this, it builds confidence that your employees can be entrusted with more important responsibilities. Following up on your action items is the best way to build trust with your manager.

8 Key steps to follow-through like a pro (and build trust with your boss)

  1. Conclude each agenda item (or talking point) with an agreed action item. This sounds like “So in conclusion, the agreed action is…”
  2. Make sure each action includes a “Who, Does What, By When” because, without an owner or a date, it’s a wish, not an action.
  3. Send a recap message or email promptly after the meeting so all parties know what has been agreed and who needs to do what.
  4. Add your action items to your work prioritization / to-do list.
  5. Do your actions! (Maybe the most important part).
  6. When you prepare for your next one-on-one meeting with your manager, review your actions for reporting back.
  7. In the next meeting, report back on your actions because your manager doesn’t know what you’ve done unless you tell them!
  8. If your manager needs something urgently, don’t wait until your next meeting, tell them right away.

How to use Fellow for your one-on-ones

One of the reasons that follow through is weak is because recording, sharing and following up on action items takes extra time and discipline. The key to efficient follow-up is to have a fast and effective method to do this.

The best way that I’ve found for this is to use Fellow.app for my meeting agendas, notes and action items.

One on One Meeting Software

This allows action items to be recorded live in the meeting, with named owners and due dates. Both the manager and the employee can add notes and actions and they are immediately visible to each other. This means you don’t have to email actions after the meeting.

Plus, the actions and notes form the prior meeting are visible when you do your next meeting, meaning it’s easy to report back and keep each other accountable!

. . .

About the author

Keith Tatley is the founder of Manager Foundation – a site that helps managers learn essential management skills to improve work happiness and success. He’s also a reformed Chartered Accountant, yoga teacher, and current CFO at the medical device startup Rapid Response Revival.

Reach out to Keith for advising companies and training partnerships here.

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