All hard charging and talented individuals get overloaded at times. The worse mistake we can make is to stop or reduce the level of communication we have with customers, team members, and all others that count on us to perform. Communication is the most important aspect of Leadership and during stressful times the need for it is exponentially important.
Our family recently moved into a new house. As part of the move we have had to engage with a few vendors for their services and products. In one example we placed an order over 2 months ago and are still waiting. The only updates we have received have been after I called the individual directly, which was needed after my wife sent multiple text messages. This has happened every other week for the last 2 months with none of the communication coming from the vendor. The answer I have received is that the factory is backlogged and they have not been able to produce product fast enough, and therefore our vendor is waiting on them. We are easy-going customers and to us the message about the inventory issue is fine – as long as we are getting updates and not having to reach out to the vendor multiple times to get answers.
In the example above, two mistakes were made. The first was the vendor not proactively giving us updates which is necessary from a customer service aspect, and especially when there are delays. The second was not returning my wife’s messages when she was making the effort to ask for updates. If he was just keeping us informed we would still be happy customers; hence, the delay is not the issue – it is all about communication.
If you are in a bind for what ever reason(s), I would encourage the following actions:
- Make a list of all the customers/projects/etc. that concern you
- Communicate by giving a regularly scheduled update on each of these
- Communicate with all related parties so that everyone knows what is going on
- Do what you say you are going to do; don’t commit to something you can’t do
- Make near-term and long-term plans so that you can avoid the underlying issues in the future
Communication saves relationships and it provides the time needed to correct issues, improve processes, increase staffing levels, etc. Communicate, communicate, communicate.