At work we’ve noticed some… communication escalation. By this I mean:
- One person will call 3-5 of the staff running our program and leave them all the same voicemail, which does not mention that she was calling several of us.
- One person will both email me a question and leave me a voicemail about it within five minutes.
- Someone who leaves a voicemail at 8AM (I don’t get in until 9) expresses frustration that she couldn’t get through to anybody when she calls again at noon and I “finally” answer.
It’s a typical case of people not seeing the big picture. They’re thinking about their isolated concern, not about what they’re doing to the office and our ability to address everyone’s concerns. Let me tell you, it’s frustrating to listen to a two-minute voicemail, look up some answers, call the person back, talk for ten minutes, then bring other questions to another colleague, only to find that that colleague had just talked to the person in question an hour ago about the same thing. Yes, that has happened. It’s a pity I couldn’t have used that time to call back 5 other people who also needed answers.
I honestly don’t blame people for getting worked up and feeling that they need to bombard us in order to receive an answer. I do want to offer them some guidelines for not slowing down everything for everyone else though.
I’m not the only one in the office who’s noticed that this problem has been increasingly insistent, and we’re discussing some policies that might help us reign it in within our department. Measure’s we’re considering:
- Sending out an automatic reply to every email stating our reply policy (i.e. staff set aside x amount of time to reply to emails per day. Non-urgent emails will be answered, but not immediately.)
- Leaving a new voicemail greeting everyday outlining our meeting schedule for the day and when callers can expect a reply.
- Indicating on our voicemails and emails that staff check both regularly, so a message in one of those systems will be sufficient.
Has anyone else noticed this happening? What do you think causes it? How have you addressed it, or how do you wish you could address it? Can social media help?