Can you be too busy to communicate with your customers or your team? Is “no response” a valid way of communicating?
Does good communication just happen?
How should I put this…..NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
You can never be too busy to communicate. In fact, not communicating is a form of communication…and the message you are sending is probably not what you want. Only someone with little or no experience would think there is a point where you just don’t have time to answer emails or phone calls. An experienced manager knows that if they do not communicate well with their clients or their team members, this will end up creating more work for them later on. This is not something you can ignore, and expect things to turn out how you want them to.
Now, I am not saying that it is a bad idea to not check emails or answer phone calls for a specified period of time so that you can get work done. I know from personal experience how much interruptions can eat at your day, and I highly recommend NOT checking your emails or phone messages immediately. But you should setup a consistent schedule when you will check your email and communicate with your team and customers.
If a customer emails you and wants you to update their site tomorrow, but you are already booked through tomorrow, you could do one of the following:
- Tell them you will handle it and work extra to get it done.
- Ignore the email/phone call and don’t get back to the client.
- Tell the client that you received their request, but your schedule is currently full with work already in the shop.
#3 is the best option. If they absolutely need the work done, and you don’t mind putting in extra time to get it done (and if it is realistic to get it done in the time frame they want), than I usually give them a 4th option. Basically what it comes down to is if they are willing to pay extra for me to fit in their work in my already booked schedule, than I have no problems meeting a realistic deadline. If they want me to create amazon.com by tomorrow, there is no amount that I would take to do this (because there is 100% chance that I will not be able to get it done by tomorrow).
If you are a manager on a team, and your team member asks you a question, IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE to not get back with them. If you don’t know the answer or don’t have time to look into it, you should always end up sending them a response within a day or two (at the most). It could be as simple as: To busy. Will respond next week. The point here is that you want to give your team members and your clients enough respect to let them know that you are not ignoring them.
I’ve known programmers who are managers who think it is acceptable to not get back with their team members. This is incompetent and bad leadership. Part of being a manager is learning to communicate clearly, even when you are busy.