In the world of recruiting and HR, it seems that everything is portrayed as urgent requiring an immediate response, as though we’re living in a constant state of emergency! We’re under siege from a constant stream of urgent requests from internal business partners. For example, a talent acquisition manager of one of our clients recently shared that much of her time, and that of her people, was spent responding to “urgent” questions or issues from internal business partners, rather than managing the business of talent acquisition – sound familiar?
In reality, what is often labeled “urgent” simply is not. But because we live in the age of smart phones, everyone assumes we’re available 24/7. So as we all know, people sit in meetings tapping away at their mobile devices and catch up on phone calls while walking to and from the bathroom. In some ways, technology has turned us into rapid-response junkies.
One of the most difficult aspects of this rapid-response culture is figuring out how to respond appropriately to clients and customers. On one hand, we know that our customers expect and value responsiveness, which we want to provide. On the other hand, not every request needs an instant response. In fact, doing so too often will not only reinforce the customer’s expectation of rapid-response on everything, but also might not always yield the best results.
So the next time you get that email with the little red exclamation point or the voicemail at 10 PM, try these three tips for determining how to respond:
- Don’t assume urgent means right now. Talk with your boss or your customer about what he/she wants to accomplish and when it’s really needed. His/her interpretation of “immediately” may be different than yours.
- Respond, but don’t necessarily act. Sometimes a client or colleague wants you to commit right away to a plan of action, but doesn’t need more than that in the short term. Explain what you will do and your intended timeline to be sure that meets his/her needs.
- Be prepared to say no. At times, you need to discern between a true crisis and a cry of wolf. Even if your customer thinks he needs it right now, it may be best to decline.
Have a great week!