My leaders are always ‘too busy’ and they aren’t following up with my emails. Suggestions?

Jan 21, 2022

🏔challenge: “I’m struggling with communication within my organization. My leaders are always ‘too busy’ and they aren’t following up with my emails. It creates a backlog where I can’t get things done as fast as I want to.” — nonprofit manager

opportunity: Communication struggles. It seems like nearly every workplace issue can be boiled down to (mis)communication. Here are some tips to reframe your internal comms:

Rethink the why. Why are reaching out and what are you communicating? Is it for a project approval or moving the ball forward on a big initiative?

  • Tie your “why” into the overall goal. This will remind your leader why you’re reaching out, and the consequences of this communication. For busy leaders (including yourself!), the “why this matters” is huge.
  • Maybe the why isn’t as urgent as you thought…in this case, suggest taking on more initiative and see if you can bring a solution to your leader allowing them to not get bogged down with the details.

Rethink the how. How do you communicate best, and how does your team communicate best?

  • This is where tools like the Predictive Index can come into play. We are all wired to communicate differently.
  • Find a happy medium that blends your communication strengths with theirs. For example, maybe you hate meetings and prefer emails, but your leader values face to face time. Create a shorter meeting every week and recap the decisions made in an email. The possibilities are endless! Find what works best for you.
  • I also highly recommend a project management tool like Asana to get team comms out of the inbox. We all have enough emails! It’s important to define what communication goes where >> especially as comms are fragmented by chat / email / tools.

Rethink the when. We often forget about the “when to’s.” This includes frequency.

  • Chances are, your team is bogged down with emails as it is. Consider creating a weekly update email with action items at the top. Keep it short, simple, and direct.
  • When you say “urgent,” it should mean urgent.
  • Create boundaries – and respect others boundaries, too.

I hope these tips get you rethinking your approach to internal comms. I also recommend being honest and saying, “Hey, I feel like our communications could be better. Let’s work together to find a solution.” This is an intro to start conversations and increase trust.

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