Alignment is important whether you are leading a team or working on one. Each one of us in the workforce is dependent on other people to get our work done. The best way to align yourself with your coworkers or your customers is to understand what the expectation is, both ways.
One of the things I hear people complain about all the time is responsiveness, particularly to email. One person may think to get back to someone the next day is acceptable, while another may think they should be responded to within the hour. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. The important thing is to know the expectation.
I had a coworker that used to email me 3 or 4 times in a day if I didn’t get back to her right away. At first it used to aggravate me. Not everyone is just sitting at their computer all day long reading emails. But then it dawned on me. She processed payroll and it was a very administrative position. She also worked under many deadlines between payroll and her other duties. If she didn’t get information in on time, the payroll could be late. She literally was at her desk the entire day. So to her, it was aggravating that it was taking me so long to get back to her.
It wasn’t until we sat down and openly discussed each other’s responsibilities that we learned how to collectively meet each other’s expectations. As a manager, I needed to get her the information she needed by a certain time, on a certain day. Now I made sure I had everything in to her before that date.
She, on the other hand, had to realize that I was not usually sitting at my desk and that if she needed something right away, email was not the best vehicle. I communicated that leaving me a message on my phone worked well, because when I did return to my office, I would see the red light blinking and listen to my voicemail. Alternatively, she could also page me if she needed an immediate response or I didn’t return her voicemail quick enough. She thought it was rude for to page me, but I let her know I was totally ok with that and I would know it must be important for me to get back to her right away.
Once we cleared the air and set the expectations, things ran like a charm. Very rarely did she have to page me because I understood the expectation. If you feel like you are getting annoyed by your coworker’s responses or actions, take the time to set the expectation. It really works!
Thoughts…….. Contact me at abbe@TECResourceCenter.com
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