Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The check-in

We all make assumptions about our communications. We assume that email gets read and understood, reports are reviewed, decisions made. Well, guess what? Executives and managers get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day, and they don't always take action on every email. An issue with email is that it's a one-way dialog. What if the receiver has a question or doesn't really understand the issue, and therefore can't make a decision?

To get past this possible impasse, I use the "check-in", either email or even better, in person. If it's email, I will send a followup to a long or complex or critical email, with simple text asking "does this make sense". I'll also send to mutliple business managers if possible, knowing that not all will respond.

I also do the "walk-around", where I'll walk from office to office to touch base with execs or managers, and simply ask what's up. Did you have any follow-on questions to email X? Any other issues? Email is a simple tool which fails when things get complex, and is never a substitute for a real business discussion.

Until the 20-something execs who use Instant Messenger (IM) take over corporate america, rely on the check-in.

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