Beating Responsiveness Hurdle #2

What is the responsiveness hurdle #2?

I do not provide colleagues an update when my efforts to respond to them is taking longer than expected.

What can you do?

– Call your colleagues as soon as possible to discuss a new deadline.

– Leave your colleagues a message if you are unable to connect with them live, to ensure she has this information as early as possible.

– Consider alternatives to meeting the deadline that may include the assistance of other colleagues.

Beating Responsiveness Hurdle #1

What is the responsiveness hurdle #1?

I do not respond quickly to colleagues who outreach to me for help.

What can you do?

– Create a “first in, first out” log to ensure you get back to your colleagues faster and in the order of their outreaches to you.

– Respond quickly to your colleagues to let them know that you are working on his request and your anticipated day of completion. By setting expectations, you eliminate unnecessary follow-up emails and phone calls.

– Investigate if your e-mail management system allows you to color code emails from certain colleagues. This way, you can prioritize your responses.
Work to respond to voicemails and emails within twenty-four hours.

– Update your voice mail and email auto responder to reflect when you will be delayed in your response time. Upon realizing you are not available, some colleagues may seek their answer elsewhere, reducing your workload.

– Consider sending an email in response to a voicemail. While human interaction is always preferable, a quick acknowledgement is better than no acknowledgement.

The Responsiveness Volume Fallacy

Not all who are unresponsive can blame the overwhelming amount of incoming emails and phone calls as the cause of their behavior. Many of us tend to assume that other people’s low responsiveness is due to workload when, in reality, they may not possess a natural predilection to getting back to others in a timely fashion, if at all. Consider the various places you could find yourself when you attempt to balance a desire to be responsive with your actual responsiveness.

Low desire to be responsive + low responsiveness. You are not very responsive, as you have little to no interest in responding to others. You are at risk of being seen as an obstructionist to progress, and your colleagues are going to simply exclude you and work around you. Your relevance in your organization is in jeopardy.

Low desire to be responsive + high responsiveness. You are likely in a role where external factors (versus your own desire) require you to be responsive. These types of roles may include, for example, a call center representative or a customer service specialist. You may find yourself in performance jeopardy as this role does not suit you well.

High desire to be responsive + low responsiveness. You represent the vast majority of busy business professionals. You really want to get back to your colleagues in a timely fashion, yet your workday is over before you have a chance to do so. The frustration your colleagues are experiencing is exceeded only by your own frustration.

High desire to be responsive + high responsiveness. You are making a difference in your organization through your support of your colleagues. You successfully satisfy your innate desire to be responsive by getting back to others in a timely basis, thus reducing stress and enabling progress.

Be More Responsive – Step #4 – Respond Appropriately

At some point, you will either have the answer your colleagues need or realize that you do not. If you have the answer they need – great! However, once you know that you are unable to help, let your colleagues know as soon as possible so they can go elsewhere. Avoid becoming the “black hole” or “bottomless pit” that exists in so many organizations by responding no matter what. In order to help your colleagues make progress, consider the following messages:

“I’ve tried to figure out what is wrong with the spreadsheet you asked me to look at and I cannot find the problem. Rather than keep you waiting any longer, I think you should call Frederick in Accounts Payable who knows more about these types of spreadsheets than I do. His extension is 455.”

“I gave this my best shot and I still can’t figure it out. Have you thought about going back to the client for more information?”

“I was able to make some progress. I forwarded this to Debbie Smith in marketing asking her to see if she can help as well.”