How many people are you waiting on to get back to you with something you need so you can do your job? Someone to an answer an important question, approval on proposal, data for a report? I currently have six. Three I know will get back to me soon, two will eventually, and the last one never gets back to me, so I already anticipate that I will have to hide in the bushes and tackle him when he walks by. I don’t know about you, but working with people who are slow to respond or just completely unresponsive makes me crazy.
This is a classic “soft skill.” You don’t need any technical knowhow; you just have to value the principle of getting back to people with what they need, when they want it. All the successful people I know, from colleagues to people with a national reputation are highly responsive. Why? Because when you’re responsive you do the following:
- Strengthen relationships by creating trust and showing respect;
- Build gratitude among your network; and
- Demonstrate that you put others first.
Successful people also keenly understand that if they don’t respond, they run the risk of send the following messages:
- They’re entitled;
- They don’t care;
- They’re disorganized; or
- They’re lazy.
Being responsive means that you get back to everyone, no matter who it is. Even if it’s just apologizing that you can’t respond to their request. It also means that you get back to people as soon as you can. How quickly you can respond might depend on how big the request is. If it is going to take more than 12 hours, let them know when they can expect it.
If you forget or are late in responding, don’t make excuses, just apologize and get them what they need. There are very few excuses that work anymore, anyway. The old “I never got that email” may have worked 20 years ago, but now it just makes you look technologically impaired. Also, saying that you were “too busy” to respond can be insulting. We’re all busy.
If you are indeed falling behind and can’t get back to people, then you need to take a hard look at your systems. Check out the “Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More”.
If you’re a leader, work to create a culture of responsiveness by constantly communicating its importance to your team. Then reward those who do it well, hold those who don’t accountable, and most importantly – model it yourself.