Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Time is of the Essence ", When "Urgent” Isn`t


Our industry is characterised by the quest for effective performance at given times and a great deal of emphasis is placed on the phrase, "time is of the essence". Participants in the sector will often receive request (or even demands of what can be portrayed as an urgent request), recipients then frequently burst into a cold sweat, dropping everything and going into a scramble mode, which might not be the best response.

Next time you get that email with the red exclamation point or the voicemail at 22:00, try these three tips:
  1. Do not assume urgent means right now (or even like yesterday as some would have it). Communicate with the other party about what it is they want to accomplish, and when it is really needed. Their interpretation of “immediately" may be different from yours.
  2. Respond, but do not necessarily act. Sometimes a customer or boss wants you to commit right away to a plan of action, but does not want more than that in the short term. Explain what you will do and your timeline, to be sure that it meets their needs.
  3. Be prepared to say no. Discern between a true crises and a cry of wolf. Even if your customer or boss thinks they need it right now, it may be best to decline. It always helps to keep your tone polite and diplomatic at all times.
Adapted from The Right Response Is Not Always Instant by Ron Ashkenas

Pieter Rautenbach

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