Your timely response matters
First, I hope this finds you and yours healthy!
Your world is most likely upside down right now. If you are lucky enough to remain employed, you are certainly going through major challenges: perhaps trying to keep your business afloat, keep staff employed, work remotely, home-school children, maintain financial stability and keep everyone – including yourself – healthy. And my heartfelt sympathy goes out to those of you who have recently lost their jobs and income.
Given all you and everyone else has on their plate, it’s tempting to let your normal business etiquette slide. Surely others will understand if you don’t get those emails answered or that project done on time, right? Your associates, employees, relatives and friends are all dealing with the same pressures that you are under and they might not even notice!
But, in fact, they will.
Try thinking of all forms of communication as elements of conversation, including emails, phone calls, texts, Slack, etc. (excluding spam!). You would certainly respond to questions and comments made during an in-person conversation– it’s common courtesy. Not responding, or not doing so in a timely manner, connotes a lack of respect.
The same rules apply to other forms of communication. Whether it’s responding to a query, following up on an initiative or updating others on the status of an issue, your communication imparts the same respect you assume will be given to you.
Perhaps you wait to respond till you have all available information prior to responding. However, the other person can’t know this unless you tell them: “Working on it, will get back to you tomorrow” is a valid response, assuming you do so.
As a leader, you set the standard and model behavior for your team.
Your lack of response, timeliness or enthusiasm signals to team members that urgency is not expected or required. Further, during this current time of uncertainty, they look to you to provide necessary structure to rely on.
The entrepreneurial consulting firm Influenceology has an excellent principle: “Either you have a sense of urgency today or a sense of regret tomorrow”.
I will, of course, respond to any comments about this – please let me know your thoughts!
Fundamental #22: Demonstrate urgency in response time and follow-up. Model enthusiasm in your response to issues and rigor in your follow up. Make sure your work is accurate, complete and timely. Keep people updated and make sure they are clear about your communication(s).