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:
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming May 2: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VII
- Narcissistic behavior at work prevents trusting relationships from developing. It also disrupts existing relationships, and generates toxic conflict. One class of behaviors that's especially threatening to relationships is disregard for the feelings of others. In this part of our series we examine the effects of that disregard. Available here and by RSS on May 2.
- And on May 9: Unethical Coordination
- When an internal department or an external source is charged with managing information about a large project, a conflict of interest can develop. That conflict presents opportunities for unethical behavior. What is the nature of that conflict, and what ethical breaches can occur? Available here and by RSS on May 9.
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