You may feel that you should not respond to colleagues until you have the answer to their questions or requests. You may assume that others know you are working on their problem and you don’t feel a need to keep them updated. You may rationalize that you are so busy, you don’t have time to get back to anyone other than your boss.
While these are reasonable perspectives, days could go by before you have an answer (especially if you are dependent on others for information) and colleagues who originally reached out to you may feel forgotten. Without a response or an update, your colleagues are unsure if you received their email or if you are working on their request at all, allowing frustration to grow and progress to stall.
Harry Ebbighausen, a former President at Iron Mountain Incorporated has mastered the ability to be highly responsive. Despite his voluminous workload and hectic travel schedule supporting a $3 billion enterprise, Harry possesses a reputation throughout Iron Mountain and the records management industry as an person who “gets back to everyone,” whether the individual reaching out to him is a fellow executive or a truck driver at a distant facility.
Harry’s reasons for being responsive are clear. “It’s a matter of respect,” says Harry. “If a colleague or an employee is taking the time to reach out to you, there must be a good reason. You demonstrate respect to others by responding to their outreach as quickly as you can.” At the same time, “if you don’t respond to others quickly, they will either not reach out to you again or fill-in their own answer to their problem. Sometimes, it may not be a good answer.”