Ed picked Katrina's number from his cell phone menu, slid his coat just a bit off his right shoulder, stuck the phone between his shoulder and his ear, froze for a moment with his right arm halfway out of his coat sleeve, and listened. "Good," he said aloud to himself, "Ringing. Maybe she's in."
He listened to the ringing as he slid his right arm out of his coat, then his left. He threw the coat on the hard hotel bed and sat down on the desk chair. As he began untying his left shoe, Katrina's voice came on the line.
It was her outgoing message. She gave her name and said, "Press star to skip this message." Ed pressed star, thinking, 'Thank you, Katrina.' He'd heard her message thousands of times, but he could never remember how to skip her message.
When Katrina recorded her outgoing message, she gave a gift to all of her colleagues by telling them how to skip her message. For repeat callers like Ed, it saves a few seconds every time. It adds up, and it can be a wonderful thing when he's rushed, or at the end of a long day. Little niceties like that can make the difference between a high-performance team and one that struggles to survive.
Here's Part II of my guidelines for communications within virtual teams. See "Virtual Communications: I," Point Lookout for January 26, 2005, and "Virtual Communications: III," Point Lookout for February 9, 2005, for more.Be realistic — you'll probably
have to leave a message
when you call
- Use Call Waiting only with Caller ID
- Interrupting a call just to find out who else is calling is a destructive practice. Get a service called "Caller ID with Name on Call Waiting," which lets you see who's calling without interrupting the current call. Even with this service, interrupt a call only for emergencies or when the second caller calls a second time.
- Think "inbox" when leaving voicemail
- For voicemail, follow the format we use for email: first give your name, your full phone number, the topic, and the priority, and then give the body of the message. It's a courtesy to the listener.
- Speak slowly in voicemail
- Speak clearly. If you're calling from a noisy environment, such as an airport, try to find a quiet place to make your call. Slow down even more when you say your phone number or email address.
- Don't make up voicemail messages on the fly
- Be realistic — you'll probably have to leave a message when you call. Be prepared to do so.
- Leave only simple voicemail messages
- Complex voicemail messages are hard to follow. The recipient almost always has to write them down. If possible, send complex messages by email. Thirty seconds is the practical maximum, especially if the recipient gets lots of voicemail.
- Say goodbye only once
- It's amazing how many people say multiple goodbyes. One will do the job.
How many voicemail messages will your team send this year? Think about how much time you can save, and how much confusion you can avoid, if your team follows these guidelines. Just don't try to explain them in voicemail. Top Next Issue
Is your organization a participant in one or more global teams? Are you the owner/sponsor of a global team? Are you managing a global team? Is everything going well, or at least as well as any project goes? Probably not. Many of the troubles people encounter are traceable to the obstacles global teams face when building working professional relationships from afar. Read 303 Tips for Virtual and Global Teams to learn how to make your global and distributed teams sing. Order Now!
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Message Mismatches
- Sometimes we misinterpret the messages we receive — what we see or hear. It's frustrating, and
tempers can flare on both sides. But if we keep in mind two ideas, we can reduce the effects of message
- Appreciate the Moment
- Often, we focus our awareness where we aren't or when we aren't. Whether we're in a heated meeting,
or blowing out the candles of a birthday cake, being fully present can make our experiences more positive
and memorable. Why are we so often someplace else? When we are, how can we come back? Or better, how
can we stay fully present when we want to?
- If Only I Had Known: II
- Ever had one of those forehead-slapping moments when someone explained something, or you suddenly realized
something? They usually involve some idea or insight that would have saved you much pain, trouble, and
heartache, if only you had known.
- Towards More Gracious Disagreement
- We spend a sizable chunk of time correcting each other. Some believe that we win points by being right,
or lose points by being wrong, but nobody seems to know who keeps the official score. Here are some
thoughts to help you kick the habit.
- Management Debt: II
- As with technical debt, we incur management debt when we make choices that carry with them recurring
costs. How can we quantify management debt?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 22: Dealing with Credit Appropriation
- Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
- And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
- When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.