“You have 60 unread emails” and it’s only 8am in the morning. Ugh. It’s shaping up to be your fourth Friday* in a row. Why is it that at the most inconvenient time, the pace doubles and the information flows faster than your filter can absorb?
What do you do in that moment to process and “communicate” from within the information tsunami? Think about it for a moment. Communication is the lifeblood of manufacturing. Communication ensures good decisions have a chance to be made, communication enables good prioritization of tasks and initiatives, communication reinforces the team’s direction.
I’ll ask again, how do you filter the information coming and going during a day like this?
Let’s start by acknowledging that email is not the end all be all. Heresy! One time in the automotive industry I watched emails flying back and forth between two of my staff who were sitting less than 15′ apart. I finally had had enough and dragged them into a conference room and said, “Fix it.”
To be fair, we all have a preferred method of communication be it Email – Text – Daily Reports – Phone – Face/Face. But instead of thinking of yourself. Why not flip it and ask yourself, “What does the situation require of you to communicate best in?” In a fluid day, an email may languish in an overflowing inbox whereas a text will be acted upon.
When sending emails, pay attention to your “subject” line wording. Some folks support multiple business areas, so just saying “Yesterday’s meeting notes” isn’t helpful. That is why Miss Grammar created “adjectives” – “Yesterday’s Production meeting notes” is more descriptive. Use key words in the subject including the project, location, etc. Help the email receiver help you.
For the millennials, go ahead and smile, because while I’m a boomer, I think a text message can be the best way to keep information flowing in certain situations. Each company’s environment differs so use this to augment and reinforce the communication for those times when “instant” means now, not an hour from now.
We all get “daily” reports. Sometimes the Daily report isn’t first on the must read now list. You can filter these as needed to fit your rhythm. Sometimes you may even discern a pattern that you never tend to read a particular report – would it be crazy to suggest removing yourself from that particular thread?
Conversations (Phone or Face/Face)
Fast conversations can prevent a cluttered email box. Let me say it again – conversations save inbox overload.
If an email chain becomes a “back and forth” conversation – either drop everyone else off or better yet pick up the phone. Realize that not everyone is on the computer all the time and not everyone has smart phones. If you need an immediate answer or have time-critical information – don’t use email. Text, call or go find the person.
When you find the information tsunami is in full force, take a moment to be respectful of others and their priorities. If someone doesn’t immediately respond to you, don’t assume they are ignoring you. While you may have 60 unread emails, they may have 100. It’s hard to believe that your priorities may not be someone else’s too.
Plan ahead, don’t procrastinate, allow people time to respond based on the situation.
*I have nothing against those who love Fridays. But after 30 years in the manufacturing world, if something is going to go wrong, it will be on a Friday or the day before a long holiday weekend… That’s when you just have to smile and say, let’s figure it out…