Technology is awesome!  For the most part, we are now connected to everyone, always.  Think about how much more productive we are as a result of it.  Whether it be from a personal perspective or a professional perspective, we have the ability to get what we want done, when we want it done.

Unfortunately, there are a number of negatives that have come along with the technological advancements in communication.  We have heard about them over and over again.  This article is not about all of them, so I will not go into the litany of the cons.  However, I do want to focus on one in particular.

Whether we like it or not, electronic communication tools (email, interoffice messengers, texts, etc.) are now forms of communication that require just as much focus as a one-on-one discussion, group meeting or any other setting where questions are asked, decisions are made and actions are agreed.  Too often, those that have been put in a position to lead others and, as a result, are required to provide advice and make decisions, get so caught up in their own “tasks”, they deprioritize their electronic communication tools until some later time.  Because no one is right in their face, they feel the communication is not as important, or they don’t have to address it immediately.

Unfortunately, the person on the other end of that communication (a peer, a subordinate, etc.) usually needs some kind of advice or decision to get their work done in an effective and efficient manner.  If they could meet us face-to-face, most would, but we all know we don’t have time for more meetings.  Hence, we are back to managing our electronic communications!

Here are 4 tips to consider implementing as part of your day-to-day activities to assist you in being responsive to others that engage you through electronic communications:

1.    Respond – Regardless of whether it will be received as good or bad news, if you can provide advice or make a decision immediately, do it!  Don’t wait to write a thesis or for the time to sugarcoat it; take action and follow-up later with the recipient if greater context is required.

2.    Make sure the sender knows they have been heard and prioritize the response – Acknowledge receipt of all communications, even if you can't respond with advice or a specific decision immediately.  If there is a question on the urgency of the communication, ask “Is this something you need a response to immediately, or can it wait until the end of the day?”  If it needs to be dealt with immediately, deal with it (as a leader, it’s what we get paid to do!).  Otherwise, respond later in the day or schedule time to address the matter in person.

3.    Make time to be responsive – Schedule time in your calendar (one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon) during the day specifically to respond to your electronic communications.  Show these times as busy and stick to them (as often as possible).  Not only does this allow your peers, team, etc. to get the necessary feedback in a timely manner, but it will help alleviate that “out-of-control” inbox!

4.    Delegate – Forward the communication to someone on your team that you believe can effectively address the matter more timely.  Having a go-to person, or persons, that you trust to provide advice and/or make certain decisions is critical.  Not only does it ensure that people are effective and efficient during the day, but it develops your team to be the next leaders in the organization.

For additional tips to assist you organize your day and demands, see our article titled Is Your Team Getting What They Need From You?  4 Tips to Make Your “Open Door Policy” More Effective.

Prism Partners International can assist you and your leaders develop your strategy and deliver resulting action plans to embed your strategy into your organization.  We drive results by holding individuals and teams accountable for accomplishing their goals, continually focusing on process improvement.  This creates an organizational environment positioned to effectively and efficiently manage growth and improve profitability.

Also, as you continue to look for ways to develop your team, consider our online training courses.  Our courses cover the following topics: strategy, culture, leadership and performance management.  These courses can be an invaluable and affordable tool to help you drive your organization/function forward and develop your people in practical, SIMPLE terms.

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