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:
- Keep a Not-To-Do List
- Unless you execute all your action items immediately, they probably end up on your To-Do list. Since
they're a source of stress, you'll feel better if you can find a way to avoid acquiring them. Having
a Not-To-Do list reminds you that some things are really not your problem.
- The Hypothetical Trap
- Politicians know that answering hypothetical questions is dangerous, but it's equally dangerous for
managers and project managers to answer them in the project context. What's the problem? Why should
you be careful of the "What If?"
- Selling Uphill: The Pitch
- Whether you're a CEO or a project champion, you occasionally have to persuade decision-makers who have
some kind of power over you. What do they look for? What are the key elements of an effective pitch?
What does it take to Persuade Power?
- Performance Issues for Non-Supervisors
- If, in part of your job, you're a non-supervisory leader, such as a team lead or a project manager,
you face special challenges when dealing with performance issues. Here are some guidelines for non-supervisors.
- Issues-Only Team Meetings
- Time spent in regular meetings is productive to the extent that it moves the team closer to its objectives.
Because uncovering and clarifying issues is more productive than distributing information or listening
to status reports, issues-only team meetings focus energy where it will help most.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming April 8: The New Virtual Meeting: Digressions
- The bane of meetings everywhere, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, has been digressions. But there are reasons to expect the incidence of digressions in meetings to increase now. What reasons could there be, and what can we do about digressions? Available here and by RSS on April 8.
- And on April 15: Incompetence: Traps and Snares
- Sometimes people judge as incompetent colleagues who are unprepared to carry out their responsibilities. Some of these "incompetents" are trapped or ensnared in incompetence, unable to acquire the ability to do their jobs. Available here and by RSS on April 15.
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- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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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.