How To Make People Follow Through?

Read time:  5 minutes




Any manager, project manager, senior manager or director had at a certain point this issue: 

How to get X to follow through? Especially when X is not in my team, but his results impact my team’s results.


Why did I pick this topic?

Because I see many managers struggling with similar situations. Their team waits for input from another team, and when this input arrives it is consistently not at the quality desired because of X from a parallel team who always underdelivers.


The challenge comes when you need:

  • on one side - to squeeze your team with extra work to make sure the final delivery will be on time and at the quality expected by the client, while 
  • on the other side - to handle internal processes of correction of the respective situation. 


Why is this challenging?

  • Because it is unfair to push your people and squeeze them to do more when others did not do their job properly.
  • Because the situation is a repeat and you see even the other manager allows the situation to go on.
  • Because you feel that chasing what went wrong will leave you even more without time or energy to pay attention to what is important, i.e. the real delivery to the client.
  • Because the other person is not reporting directly to you so you feel you do not have the right formal authority to “convince” him.
  • Because it may cause you to look bad in terms of results if you do not manage to deliver as required by your plans.
  • Because you have now to inform the 3rd time your project director about what happened to you again and ask him for approving overtime for your people.
  • And so on …

The truth is the manager of the other area might not even know X is delivering under quality. Or, in extremis, he knows something (probably just bits) about the negative impact your team suffers, but he believes you have it under control. Therefore, in the absence of any heads-up, complaint or direct request for change from your side, your peer manager will believe there is no need for more intervention from his side, and that things work pretty well the way they do. After all, he is under the same pressure as you are.

Or, you may think this is the problem of your manager to see that the other manager cannot do it better, does not know what is happening, or does not want to do more. And you may expect this someone else to see what is happening and correct the situation.

Even if the problem originated somewhere else, the sooner it reaches the work area you manage, it becomes your problem. So you need to deal with it quickly, as early as you become aware of it. The more you let it fester, the bigger the further negative potential on your team’s results, and sometimes even on their morale, and, possibly, on the company's overall deliveries and relationship with the clients.

If X is not in your team, you have these alternatives: 


  1. Correct or improve the company’s systems 

In which way do they create the conditions for subquality results to reach your team? A joint process audit with X’s manager will help you make transparent whether there are any system breaches or system flaws that need immediate correction. Look at requirements and see whether all of them are explicit and known to both X and his manager. Look at the monitoring and control systems X, X’s team and X’s manager have in place to ensure subquality is not passed further in the “production” flow. Look jointly with X’s manager how the involved organisational technology supports this under-delivery to occur.


  1. Talk to X’s manager

and share your concerns about what you have noticed in respect of how often it happened and the negative impact it had on your team’s work. It is X’s manager to deal with X and correct X’s performance if it turns out to be just an individual performance case. From employee performance review to training, to discussions of particular personal issues that may hinder X’s performance, to replacing X for specific work or providing X with additional support, to letting go completely X, are all possible solutions at hand.


  1. Escalate

but keep this as your last resort. You first want to have worked the right levels of authority before submitting your complaint above. You need to have serious proof of what is not working in your previous attempts to go further and rely on the formal power the level above you has. And yes, do it if you see all kinds of costs accruing and 


On paper, things sound easy, isn’t it? In reality, it is not that easy, right?

Because emotions, judgements and assumptions clutter our minds when we would like to do something. Have you ever caught yourself thinking like this in a similar case?

  1. X is never capable of doing a good thing but it is not my business to improve him/her performance
  2. X’s manager has no idea what his/her people are doing
  3. X’s manager has the house in complete disorder
  4. I am always left to take out from the fire the other’s hot potatoes 
  5. If it would not be me and my people, our organisation would fail to deliver quality
  6. Oh my God, we will not be able to deliver as it should. And that is because of X! X is the one making me and my team look bad on results! And me looking like not having things in control.
  7. If X’s manager does not see the performance of X, it is not my business to correct it.
  8. I am afraid if I would tell X’s manager, X will get punished, and I do not want people to suffer because of me.
  9. I cannot go to tell X’s manager about X, because I think he already knows about the situation. X’s manager is a real professional, and if he could have done something, he would have already done it. This is the way it is. Life is unfair to me!
  10. Nobody sees anything in this company! Everyone is doing whatever they want without being checked. 
  11. It’s for the 5th time my team will get bad results just because X’s manager does not see what is happening under their watch.
  12. I have no idea what else to do, X’s manager told me he did everything he could do but nothing changed.
  13. Let’s hope next time it is better. 


In coaching managers, I heard all the explanations above. And I remember at the beginning of my management career, I was also guilty of a couple of these lines of thinking. 

But are they explanations or justifications?

Not long ago, I discovered our mind is a machine of making meaning with the main objective of keeping ourselves safe. We create meaning by imagining things which may not be there and use this meaning to feel safe. Because safety is not only physical. There is also emotional safety we are looking or even craving for, especially when - deep inside - we know we should do something, but we chose a different line of action than doing it.

Why? Very often because we operate in automatic ways dictated by our thinking saboteurs. So we do create justifications based on our self-sabotaging profile. Mind these justifications are thoughts by which our brain keeps us emotionally safe.

We all tend to self-sabotage by allocating meaning to our and others’ deeds, in the absence of clear facts about what happened. We then conduct our life operating on the assumptions or justifications we made up as if they were true. Only to find out later that we got it wrong.

To find out more you can download here for free a pocket guide explaining each of the 10 Thinking Saboteurs


Now, let’s see, what do all the above thoughts have in common?

    1. They do not solve the situation
    2. They do not show commitment towards constructive action
    3. They all box you into a role: victim, avoider, caretaker, hero, righteous one, elitist, believer, fatalist, hopeful, controller, the achievement chaser. And none of these roles is that of a problem solver.
    4. They act from a point of scarcity: I/we cannot, I/we do not know, I/we are not able, I/we are not enough, I/we are going to lose something
    5. They are all seeded on the emotion you feel about what is happening to you and your team (frustration, anger, disbelief, fear, anxiety, feelings of unfairness, lack of power, indignation, etc)
    6. They are just justifications for why you are not taking action to correct
    7. They all provide you with an emotionally safe exit. Because you know that you need to do something and you feel like you cannot or do not want to do anything, you will start feeling bad about it. And to cover this “pain” or to numb it, you create a perspective similar in line with one above providing you with a legitimate answer why you should not do or why is normal not to want to do anything to correct the situation, which will give you temporary peace of mind and emotional relief.
    8. They all have as reference your ideal scenario in which things work in perfect harmony or “as it should” where your intervention would be minimum for correction of the processes. 


How many times have you seen the organizational processes work perfectly and strictly adhere to the way they are described by your company’s quality manual or body of operating procedures?

Work is messy. Not because anyone wants it to be. In my experience, I have not yet met anyone to arrive at their job with the intention of not doing a good job. My experience proved to me that people want to make a good job and be seen and recognised for it. 

In this respect, they are very similar to you, isn’t it?

Amid various pressures, the systems and procedures are very helpful because they create a recommended way of doing things, in which the company is certain that clients will receive a service or a product at the expected quality.

To cite Elon Musk: “the only real laws in the world are the laws of physics; the others are just recommendations.” This means the other laws, rules, regulations, and procedures are just temporary and local agreements. Therefore, in the absence of you (the manager) watching for them being applied, they will register changes (minor or major) according to the agreements the stakeholders of each situation can strike as per their knowledge, formal power or their influence ability.

And you are one of these stakeholders. As a manager, you need to learn to play masterly the combination of knowledge, influence and formal authority when reaching agreements for your team, company or all the systems you belong to. 

This means also learning to maintain the mind clear despite the emotions you feel, despite the inner dialogue, and focused on productive action moving you and your team ahead.


In any organizational circumstance you have two ways to deal with it if you do not like it:

  • You either do something to change it, or
  • You accept it. 


Accepting sounds easy, but is it? Saying you accept and then not keeping your promise to do it fully, is the fastest way to burn out.

Often, managers believe that thinking about the situation will solve it. This is just rumination and leads nowhere too. It just keeps you in the loop of similar justifications as above.

Imperfect action is way better than no action. You can improve it at your next step. An imperfect action taken now wastes no time and shows commitment to collaboration, improvement, to moving ahead. 

And in the process, it is never about your success or your results only. It is about HOW YOU OBTAIN THEM navigating your states of mind and emotions in all the relationships you have to work with in doing your management job.


In the end, I leave you with several questions:

  • What, if anything, became clearer to you?
  • How can you apply these insights further to solve this situation?
  • What kind of actions are you now inspired to take?
  • Who will YOU become in taking those actions?


Until next time, remain safe and sage!


Alina Florea

Your High-Performance and Mindset Coach



💥🎉 That’s pretty much all for today 💥🎉



Getting people to follow up on their commitments at work can be challenging for managers.

Any manager needs to see the type of justifications they create for themselves in situations where they feel they cannot do anything.

Knowing what is to be done does not mean the manager is ready to do it.

This happens because often he or she creates all sorts of narratives of why not doing anything or not doing what he or she knows it should be done.

Justifications are not the same thing as explanations. Justifications are just concoctions of our minds, helping us to emotionally live the moment or the day at the expense of long-term peace of mind. Explanations are given by verifiable facts.

In any circumstance, managers have two viable options: to change it or to accept it. Rumination about what is to be done in that circumstance is neither one, and leads only to a depletion of energy or burn-out. 




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Alina Florea

Your High-Performance and Mindset Coach




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