One of Jeffrey’s MBA students sent him this email (edited for brevity here) a while ago. The “lessons learned” here deserve to be shared:
In 2010, I worked at the United States Forces Iraq Headquarters in Baghdad. I was part of a communications cell that developed communication plans in support of named operations (not ideal for an Apache pilot, but we all have to do our time on staff).
I won’t get into the details here, but we learned three things that demonstrate your points in class about the importance of “closure conversations”. It makes a difference when senior people hear reports on each team’s performance results, and see the team’s status on the goals and timelines for their plans.
- The plans that were very successful were the ones where the upper level leadership held consistently scheduled update briefs with their team of planners.
- Other operation plans, while very important, did not meet the threshold to be prioritized into the update meetings, so they didn’t get consistent upper level leadership attention, feedback, and follow-up. Some of these no-follow-up plans were successful based on the energy and commitment of junior leaders, Other no-follow-up plans were marginalized or simply overcome by events.
- Based on what I saw in that situation (as well as in other positions I’ve held), management is often missing when the leaders are not inspecting or requesting regular updates.
Bottom line: Leaders may say an event or a plan is very important, but if they don’t follow through with consistent attention and feedback on the team’s performance, they are not supporting either the commitment to the goal or the work of the team.