Mini crises pop up all the time. Some are little fires, snuffed out immediately. Others can smolder for days before bursting into a full-scale inferno. The more people involved within your organization, the harder they are to control.
Typically, when tempers flare and the he said-she said battles commence, I ask the parties involved to email me a summary of what happened and what they’d like to see happen as a result before I act. In the digital/mobile/social age, I’m sure you can anticipate how warmly that is received. It happened last week and the three parties involved all responded with, “Just call me tomorrow.”
The problem is that I didn’t want to call them tomorrow. I asked them, specifically, to email me a summary of what happened and what they’d like to see happen as a result. While I didn’t have time to talk to each of the three on the phone at that very moment, I didn’t ask them to email me for no reason. I asked, in fact, for a very strategic one.
An email summary forces you to think it through, remove the unnecessary and make the decision-making efficient
When the party in question sits down to compose an email summary, the act forces them to think the conversation/incident through, review it in their mind a few times, perhaps even edit down their recall of the facts and temper their opinions in favor of truisms. The act of writing it all down also tends to remove the superfluous bitch sessions and chit-chat that eat up far too much time during the “just call me tomorrows.”
For a manager, it gives you a more clear picture of what happened from everyone’s perspective and gets rid of most of the non-essential, emotional baggage.
We do live in an era bursting with the luxury of expedition and information overload. The quick phone call, the short text, even the social post or online chat session do wonders to move business along at a breakneck pace. But when someone asks to you email them a summary, know they are not necessarily a luddite. They may simply be wishing to dispense with the matter in an informed and efficient manner.
(That was one hell of a passive-aggressive way to tell those three people to email me next time, wasn’t it? Heh.)