Big initiatives and communication exercises do have good implications but it is actually strengthened by smaller gestures
A Boss who is too lazy to reply to team members' emails or texts breaks the chain of communication
In most organizations, HR departments (and bosses) make quite an effort to ensure proper communication among team members. They give great speeches on the importance of communication, plan interactive activities, big and small parties, get-togethers, picnics and what not, just to break the ice between different departments and within teams.
Often such events end with the bosses sharing how such activities bring people on one platform and help them interact with each other. Good enough! But it’s always quite amusing when the bosses who love to take center stage during such events are the ones who take ages to reply to texts, emails or even verbal requests sent by their junior colleagues (if at all they choose to reply to it). And it is not always because the boss is busy, often it is because (s) he chooses to ignore it. They will ask for plans which they won’t bother to give feedback on, leave requests will go unanswered, approvals will get delayed and yet, in the end, it will be the junior colleagues who will be thrown under the bus.
Communication is an interesting thing: big initiatives and communication exercises do have good implications but it is actually strengthened by smaller gestures. The basic link within a team around which the entire chain of communication is built is the way the boss communicates with his or her team. For team members who often see their boss flaunting his latest tab or fiddling constantly with his BlackBerry or Smartphone, not receiving reply to simplest of their queries usually evokes feeling of being ignored. Such silence on the boss’s part may be read differently, but would rarely be taken positively by the team.
1. Respond. Your people deserve it:
Employees are people and they want to be treated like people. The moment a team leader starts treating his employees as mere resources, half of the team spirit is gone. Replies and responses to employees’ messages show that you value the sender. Most of the time, all that employees expect is the boss’s opinion; it is OK if the replies are late or if you have communicated it through someone else or some other medium, but do not forget to respond. If you are in the habit of responding promptly to your team members, a few glitches will be generously overlooked by them. But by ignoring them regularly you are willfully breaking the chain of communication.
2. Acknowledge work related mails:
Ignoring your subordinates’ work related mails is like devaluing their hard work. Even if you have changed your plans regarding that particular project or you have decided to look at the details later, send an acknowledgment. A small ‘OK’ or ‘will revert’ is much better than ignoring the mails or not replying at all. If you choose to ignore emails that seek your suggestion or help, you very clearly pass on the message that you are least interested in your team members’ problems and you fail to lead them to solutions.
3. Bring up the discussions later:
If you have failed to respond to any of their queries bring up the topic even when it is too late. This way you build a relationship of trust with your people. It is important to keep the thread of discussion alive. Good or bad, yes or no, whatever your reaction is, respond and give feedback. Do not wait for your juniors to come to you again and again for work. If you cannot bother to respond, they will not bother to come to you or seek your suggestions.