Responsiveness used to be a competitive advantage. That was when everyone was catching up with the tools and technologies for on-demand communication and action. Now that we all have access to the tools, responsiveness is expected.
Ironically, there is still a deficit in responsive communications. We are still put on hold in directory trees when we call in. Many people still take days to respond to email, or not at all, much less return phone calls.
I have observed the following in the nature of work today:
- People are overwhelmed
- We have many inboxes
- Many people’s inboxes are unmanageable
- It doesn’t bother people to not respond
- They don’t respond because they are thinking of themselves, not others
- Most people are used to chaos rather than systems
- Chaos can be used to hide from execution
If you are known for responsiveness, it is a powerful brand. It meets a need in the market for getting answers and solving problems quickly. Depending on your work and industry, there are many other reasons to hone in on responsive communications and actions. I will just assume that you want it but it may be elusive. If that is the case, then your ability to respond is tied to how you set up your processes, both individual and collaboratively. Consider addressing your world as follows:
- Minimize your inboxes. Every place you check – voicemail, email, social media, etc. – has to be managed. Consolidate, eliminate and streamline the number of inputs.
- Delete. Trash most of your stuff. You won’t need it. Be ruthless in your clean-up and your ongoing habits.
- Get a ZeroInbox. You can operate with a zeroinbox. It allows for new challenges to flow in and be managed up front. Keep your up front decision making clear from noise. There is work to get done now, later and never. Differentiate with a quick decision-making process.
- Commit to cloud computing. Put everything in the cloud. Sync your data. Get rid of paper. Working online is efficient, available and easier to serve your customers and partners with. The solutions are vast. Integrate, customize and have a strong process for how information flows.
- Be vigilant. This is the hardest part. It requires a habit and mindset committed to ongoing work process. Here’s the primary motivation – it is about others, not about you. You would not ignore someone who started talking to you. It is rude. If you don’t want to engage, be courteous and direct. But do address the person out of courtesy and respect. It takes vigilance. If your work gets larger, then your systems need to scale accordingly as well. This is all achievable if you are committed.
We used to be able to hide in bureaucracy and inefficiency. The speed of work today has made our own output highly transparent to everyone that touches us or expects something from us. If you can’t execute, then at least communicate. That is your work and will pay large dividends over time in terms of building trust and your brand.
How responsive are you? What can you change?