A friend of mine who’s a media executive described a recent meeting thus:
“At the end of the meeting, their CEO agrees we’ll have a decision by Friday. Then she said, ‘…and you may need to bug me a lot before then, send me a lot of emails on Thursday, call me…go ahead and do it, I won’t mind and I’ll probably need to be reminded.”
My friend’s take on this well-intentioned statement was that we’ve gotten to such a level of media (email, web, social media, etc.) overload that senior folks in all walks of life are simply abdicating responsibility for being functioning, capable people who stick to deadlines, reply in a timely manner, remember what they say and follow through on their promises.
It’s a sad state of affairs which basically says: I leave it up to you to bug me enough that I pay attention.
There are lots of directions we could go from here – about people not spending time on the right things; about how more information is leading to less effective leadership; about fighting this tooth and nail in your organization by creating cultural norms that are the exact opposite of this tidal wave of abdication of responsibility.
Instead, let’s be overwhelmingly practical and take this moment to remind ourselves that the ability to stand in front of a person and get their real attention is more at a premium than ever.
That you need to master multiple channels of communication to get through to different folks (texting in Europe and the developing world; email plus phone plus text here in the U.S.; etc.).
That, instead of sending the eleventh email and waiting, you’d best have your top customers/clients/relationships on speed dial. (Really. Do you? Do you have the cellphone number of all your Board members in your phone and at your fingertips? Why not?)
On the margin – sadly – I bet you have to be a little pushier than you’d like to be in order to break through.