Managing expectations (part 2)

March 30, 2009

In an earlier post, I was talking about managing interruptions.

The first step was to identify the interruptions (phone calls, email, drop ins, etc.).

Second was to identify the expectations (prompt response, things done on time, etc.).

Finally, identify the communication needed that would allow you to manage the expectations.

Managing the expectations of other people who would want or need to communicate with you throughout the day is a simple matter of communication.

Think back to the last voicemail you reached when you were calling a colleague. Did it say:

“Thanks for calling. I am away from my desk. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”

How useful is that message? How much confidence do you have in your call being returned. And when will it be returned anyway?

What if instead the message said something like:

“In order to keep to all my deadlines, I am not answering my phone right now. However, if you leave a complete message (including why you are calling), I will return all phone calls between 11-12 or 3-4.”

And you knew the person would actually do that? I don’t know about you, but I am more inclined to leave a message (and only one message) when I get a voicemail like that.

And it is the same issue for emails. If you have already set up your email protocols (and I hope you have), and you are not checking email all day long, then all that is needed is a simple auto-response letting people know when you will be checking and responding to your email.

Two simple steps to free you up to get more done. Worth a try?


Managing interruptions = Managing expectations

March 15, 2009

Have you noticed how many interruptions there are in any given day? Maybe you even find yourself grumbling about all the interruptions?

“I could get this project done if the phone would just stop ringing!”

“I had so many emails coming in I just couldn’t get focused on anything today!”

“Even though I had my door closed, people kept popping in with ‘this will only take a sec!'”

“My desk is such a disaster, I spent half the day looking for the report I needed!”

Been there. Done that. It is no wonder we are a culture operating with a high level of inability to focus! It is pretty clear that more and more we need to be very proactive in managing the interruptions. But how can we do that?

Part of it, I think, comes from being able to manage expectations – our own and others’. What do I mean? Well, if you expect to get a certain piece of work done, but you know it will take 8 hours of focused action, and you (1) only schedule 4 hours, and (2) allow yourself to answer the phone and check email during that time – then you are not doing a very good job of managing your own expectations. And you will be disappointed.

If you let your phone go to voicemail, and don’t check your email, and you haven’t set up anything to manage the expectations of the people attempting to contact you – you will end up with multiple messages from the same person, most probably expressing an increasing level of frustration and annoyance, and you could end up alienating a key client, friend or colleague.

How can you overcome this?

First, identify the interruptions:

  • phone calls
  • email
  • having to locate resources
  • people dropping by
  • your preferred method of procrastination
  • etc.

Second, identify the expectations:

  • a prompt response to phone or email messages
  • resources are available
  • project/task will be completed on time
  • etc.

Finally, identify the communication needed that will allow you to manage those expectations.

More on that in the next post…

Change of perspective is a great thing

March 2, 2009

I just got back from a week in beautiful, sunny, SW FLorida. And, of course, it snowed within 12 hours of my return. Now, if it had snowed before I left, I probably would have been grumbling about the inconvenience of it all.

The interesting thing is, after a week of studying, writing, walking and thinking – I could completely enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the snow. Perspective is amazing!

Where in your work/life are you feeling trapped? Could you just be a little too close to the situation to see what is really possible?

Step back, take a wider view. That may be all it takes to change the outcome.

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