Doesn’t Anyone Read Anything Properly Anymore?
I know people (including me) can occasionally forget things or misread information, but I have to admit, I’m getting tired of people either reading things so quickly they are not taking it all in, or they are just being lazy by asking for information they’ve been provided previously.
I’ll give you a few examples, firstly from my netball coaching and committee roles.
- Each year, I provide a comprehensive welcome letter to parents and girls outlining what happens in a season including attendance at carnivals. Recently, I texted parents asking if their daughter was going to play in an upcoming carnival.
Response from one parent: I do not know anything about this. My thought was, really?
- I had changed training times and date during school holidays and advised parents in a note and a reminder text. Yet I still had three parents turn up when training was not on and texted me to check what was happening.
- I had advised parents in a note and text there was no game on the May long weekend. Still had a parent text me on the Saturday morning to see if we were playing.
Now I’m a coach who is generally very prepared and advises parents with texts and notes about what is happening with as much notice as possible, and yet I still have kids not turning up to training when they should because parents aren’t organised and on top of things.
I know parents are juggling lots of things, but we’re all busy including me. Not having everyone at training or on game day means I have to change what I’d prepared on the run which is doable but sometimes frustrating because I may have wasted time thinking up a new drill which now can’t happen because the numbers don’t work.
So why is it that some people expect to be reminded multiple times rather than them taking responsibility for putting dates and times into their diaries and schedules?
I also get frustrated with parents (and it’s not everyone in my teams) who do this because they’re not providing a good example for their children to follow.
I’m also part of our Club’s Committee, and we use Facebook Messenger as our communication tool which is great. Yet when I messaged members to meet me at my court to give them something, I still had one member ask me the court number, even though it was in my message.
From a business perspective, I give my clients options of when they can meet with me, and then I ask them to send me a meeting appointment to confirm the date and time they choose. Too often though, I still get clients replying back with ‘what about…’ and this is after I have highlighted the actions I am asking them to do.
Now you may be thinking: what’s the problem? These are only little things so what does it matter if you send multiple texts or emails – it’s quick, easy and takes no time to do it.
But here’s my point. Time is the most precious commodity we have today – we all want to use our time in the best way we can; and in business, time definitely equals money so anywhere you (or I) can save time puts us ahead of the game.
And to take it one step further: accountability, responsibility and attention to detail are essential skills we need to be successful in business and in life. But unfortunately, I see this lacking in our everyday communication.
So, if you or your team or your clients need constant reminders to undertake tasks or aren’t taking their time to read information which has already been provided, here’s my three suggestions to address this.
1. Stop enabling this behaviour and being their ‘Someone Else.’
But please ensure before you do this that people are aware this is an issue. Because if no one tells them, how do they know?
People need to start taking responsibility for their own actions, decisions and behaviour instead of believing it’s up to ‘someone else’ or an automation to do this for them.
2. Stop following up.
If you’ve been clear with tasks, outcomes and timeframes; then work on the premise that all is OK unless you’re told otherwise.
If you keep ‘checking in’, you stay in a reminder loop rather than letting people manage their own time and workload. Often behaviour will only change once there is a consequence for missing a deadline or not arranging a meeting in time. And then it’s a very different conversation which is probably what’s needed anyway to get things back on track.
3. Stop providing long-winded answers.
Have a look at your emails and see if you’re guilty (and we all can sometimes be) of email tag, e.g., ‘as I said in my previous three emails, I asked you to provide…’
Rather than do this, keep responses short and sweet or even better sometimes, don’t respond at all to see if a phone call is forthcoming to find out what’s going on. The words Yes, No or See Below can be your best friends as they start people thinking about what they should have done or read before they responded in haste.
Remember: Leadership and behaviour starts at the top so are you modelling the behaviours you want your staff and clients to follow or are you guilty of relying on ‘Someone Else’ or letting people think it’s OK not to follow instructions?
If you’re not sure or need a little reminder, I suggest reading Charles Osgood’s poem to ensure everyone in your business is not leaving things to Somebody or even worse Nobody.
A poem about responsibility
There was a most important job that needed to be done,
And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
Is who exactly will it be who’ll carry out the task?
Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
That this was something Somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; Anybody had the ability.
But Nobody believed that it was their responsibility.
It seemed to be a job that Anybody could have done,
If Anybody thought they were supposed to be the one.
But since Everybody recognised that Anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that Somebody would.
But Nobody told Anybody that we are aware of,
That they would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And Nobody took it on themself to follow through,
And do what Everybody thought that Somebody would do.
When what Everybody needed did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
And Everybody looked around for Somebody to blame.
Somebody should have done the job
And Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
What Anybody could have.
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