There are tons of situations where I find I have to follow up with people in my job. That’s the nature of my Type A personality I suppose, as well as the nature of managing different clients and projects. The truth is: I hate following up, I hate having to follow up, because I have a vision of a perfect world where people are considerate of your requests and time and they are proactively keeping you in the loop. Sorry, I think I just had a daydream there… ya, right…
Here are a handful of things that drive me crazy. I’m not perfect, and I’m quite sure I’m guilty of some of them, but I work very hard at communicating regularly with my clients, and I feel like I’m the exception to the rule.
Not acknowledging emails or phone calls after a reasonable period. I’m not asking you to jump when I call or email you, but the considerate thing to do if someone asks you to do something for them or asks you a question, is give them some indication that you got their message.
“Hey, I got your voicemail, I’m swamped today but I’ll be looking into that issue on _____”. Be realistic with the time and date you provide. Don’t give me some long-winded explanation of why you are delaying me. And please don’t give me “I’ll get to that as soon as possible”.
I’m often getting emails on things that are non-urgent, and many times my answer is “I’m at a client today, but I’ll look into that this evening for you”. If I said I’ll look into that “today”, the expectation is *during business hours*… at least my expectation is!
“As soon as possible”
I don’t know your schedule, your obligations, your timelines. That response could be “I have one thing I have to get done and you’re next up today”. Or, that could be “I’m in the middle of a major upgrade and you won’t hear from me until next week”. Enough with the “I’m get that to you as soon as possible” … look at your workload and obligations, be realistic about where this prioritizes in your schedule and give me a real date or time please, to guide my expectations.
OK, now you have given me an ETA on the thing I’m looking for an answer on or help with, and that date or time has flown by. This could also fall into the “crickets” category and often does. If you’re not close to doing whatever you promised to do for me, follow up with a note to set the expectations. Be up front with me if my question or issue ranks low on your priority scale. If you explain the situation, chances are I will go a lot easier on you than if you just ignore the situation and hope I don’t notice you haven’t gotten back to me yet.
As in “I’m literally working on that right now”… followed by multiple days of crickets. Should I call the police, send out a search party, I mean you “literally” were just working on that 3 days ago and I’m concerned something serious must have happened that I still haven’t heard from you. Oh, right, that’s just another form of “as soon as possible”.
No follow up when you *are* done
Even more aggravating, in the case where I’ve asked someone to do something, is no indication that you’ve completed that task. Please, I try not to waste your time, don’t waste mine. I don’t want to have to test/check that something is done just to find out it’s done, unless that is specifically what we have already discussed.
Not using Out Of Office replies
This seems more prevalent these days for some reason… emailing people who are on vacation and there is no out of office notice going out. Do you expect to check your email on vacation, regularly enough that you can keep in touch? If so, great, but perhaps you should work on your “taking a vacation” skills. Otherwise, use OOO… at least there’s an auto-response that gives me a clue as to when I might hear back from you.
Social Media activity
This is a new one. Now with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, we’re more visible than we ever were before this all came around. For the most part that is a good thing. Except when I see a regular stream of social media activity during a “cricket” period, and then my first reaction is “now I know what you’re doing instead of responding to me”. It’s probably not true, and really not a fair statement but that’s the impression you’re giving off, in my opinion. If I’m following a *person* (their handle or page is their name, not their company), I’m assuming *you* are writing your own content, hence my reaction that you’re prioritizing that higher than responding to my issue or request. If I’m following a *company*, I’m less likely to think that as firms often outsource social media or someone else is putting that info out there.
In my role as an independent consultant, I’m in the unique position to see and hear what some clients have to say about other firms they deal with, whether that is their Dynamics GP reseller or other non-GP related external parties. On occasion I hear “oh, he’s very good, he always gets back to us right away when we contact him”. Mostly I hear the opposite, and often it’s from someone in a position to influence who gets hired or selected to do future work. If only people knew this and acted accordingly…