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Article Written by:  John Keyser,

I wrote a short article about timeliness this past October and received grateful feedback, e.g.,

“I wish all of our other senior executives would read your article, take it to heart, and improve their responsiveness and helpfulness.”

This is a significant problem. Almost everyone in business is very busy. As a result, some managers are slow to respond to requests from team members and other colleagues, which is frustrating and not fair to those people.

In my leadership Common Sense Leadership consulting and coaching practice, I speak with hundreds of business people every year. Too often, I hear:

“My boss is not punctual in returning my emails and voice messages.”

“Those in our home office do not seem to know what it is like serving our clients and our urgency in doing so. They do not respond promptly to our needs and requests.”

“We have to follow up, repeatedly, often two, three times.”

“I do not feel appreciated or valued as my manager often returns my calls and emails days or weeks later. Does he think what I do is not important?”

“He does not seem to value me and my work. Not only am I not a priority to him, I seem to be a bother.”

We must realize that we are responsible for helping our people. We need to prioritize responding to our team members and other colleagues. Our promptness enables them to better work, including serving our clients.

Everyone wants to do a good job and be successful! Let’s help them be successful.

And everyone wants to feel:

  • appreciated and valued,
  • that they are heard, and
  • that their ideas matter.

If we do not get right back to our people when they email and call, they feel we are disrespecting them. Just yesterday, a very talented and dedicated up and coming vice president, told me that she feels the senior managers of her company must not like her. They seldom answer her requests on a timely basis and without her follow-ups.

When I discuss responsiveness and timeliness with senior managers, they invariably say, “I know, I’m just so busy. I’m jammed, but I’ll work on being better.”

This is not acceptable! If someone is in a leadership position, they must make time to be responsive in a timely manner! Busyness is not an excuse. We must manage our schedule and time so we are available to our people. This is leadership, and anything less is not. 

If we receive a request and we’re swamped, we can respond ASAP, briefly explain, and ask if we can get back this afternoon, tomorrow or whenever is our first chance. Our timely response is important–and appropriate!

There is no magic solution. Each of us has different circumstances and levels of support. We each need our own customized plan to manage our time and attention.

Our people need to be as high a priority to us as our external clients if we are to have a healthy company with energetic, enthusiastic and engaged team members–and consistently earn the results we desire.

Easy? No! – Necessary? Absolutely!

There are resources to help us, e.g., articles, books, coaches.

It’s a crazy-busy world and getting worse. The successful leaders will gain control of their attention and be responsive and timely. Successful leaders serve their people.

Responsiveness and timeliness must be important principles of our leadership!