Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's Your Plan B?

A buddy of mine left me a message on my cell phone on Friday. It concerned a letter he wanted me to write for him for an upcoming meeting on Monday night. Well here it is Tuesday morning and I just heard his plea for help. My phone had died and was being repaired so his call went unanswered. I feel terrible about it and just tried to call him back. I got his voicemail.

This exchange in communication, or lack thereof, brings up a critical point that I've thought a lot about lately. I wonder at what point my friend began thinking about a backup plan. Was it Saturday or Sunday? Maybe he thought I was away for the weekend. Was it Monday morning? Lunch time? I don't know but I'll find out when we speak.

More often than not our business communication is done by voicemail and e-mail. I'm just as guilty leaving messages requesting someone to send me a document or to call me back with an important detail. This is not a dialog but a monologue. And it can cause a lot of problems.

Of course we all love the trail that e-mail leave, "I asked you for the LMN file in my e-mail sent to you on May 25th but never received it."

To make matters worse, there's even a feature on my Verizon cell phone (I think it's #8) that will allow you to respond to a fellow Verizon customer's voicemail that will allow you to reply to their message without their phone even ringing. Talk about impersonal.

My point is this... you have to develop a fall-back strategy or Plan B as soon as you are forced to rely on someone else's actions. It's not losing faith in the abilities of others but a harsh reality. Even as professionals we have to grow up and become self-sufficient.

So what are the loose ends that have been hanging around your to-do list for more than a couple weeks? Is there something that YOU can do to get them completed rather than waiting for someone else?

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