Have you noticed how often important details are not read in your emails? Or when you know you said something that the other person said you didn’t say that? Or how often you have to repeat more than once deadlines others need to keep if there is any hope that they will? Don’t think that you are alone! People Don’t Read, People Don’t Listen. And it is getting worse! But don’t despair, there are things you can do to increase the likelihood that what you say and write will be heard and acted upon. But the responsibility is on YOU to make it happen, or it won’t happen. Let’s first look at the “WHY” these things happen so often, then the “WHAT” and “HOW” to fix the problem.
First of all, the problem relates to the massive amount of information all of us are handling, and the many ways in which it bombards us. Many have learned that the only way to manage this is to filter, and in filtering, we often miss important details. For example, when we send an email letting someone else know when we are available, and they call at the time we are Not available. Even if they read the correct information in our email, they call when it is convenient for them, and fail to review the details in our email. So many productivity problems and wasted time occurs because of this.
Another reason for the problem is lack of focus. Most people are balancing so many balls in the air at once, many of those balls relating to conflicting priorities, that lack of prioritizing occurs. What pops up as urgent is what is handled at the time, which is not necessarily what should be the priority.
And how often do you have to follow up one time too many, or what needs to get done, doesn’t? I am reminded of a CEO I worked with years ago, who said more times than I can count, that if he expected something to be done, he had to monitor, follow up, and then it MIGHT get done. He sent more than one email about it. He knew that if he didn’t monitor, and follow up, that what he expected to be done would not happen. He accepted the responsibility to remind his direct reports, to monitor, and to follow up. He didn’t complain about it, he didn’t place the responsibility on others; he assumed the responsibility to keep the focus on what was important. This lesson you taught me, Render, stays with me to this day.
If you are a CEO or a Director in an organization with a lot of responsibility, your main job functions are that of choreographer and coordinator. If you are spending too much time doing, you are out of your league. Your main job is to enable others to do their job. This takes many forms, but none of these is that you are the “doer.” Your job is to facilitate others to do.
Never forget that others are watching you, and taking their lead from what you do. Are you doing the right things? Are you modeling the right behaviors? Well, of course, some of you are, and others of you aren’t, and those in both groups know who they are.
Where are you in this mix? More importantly, where do you need/want to be, and how will you get there?
Think about it. Then do it.