Forums

I'd like to recommend to the group to add your directs to your cell phone contacts.

Measure: In your cell phone (i.e., the mobile number you give to your directs), you have the mobile number and name for each of your direct reports up to date within the past 90 days.

Here is the situation I encountered. In two separate occaisions I've been away from the office, but not someplace where I could hold a phone conversation. I needed to get a quick message to my manager, so I send it in a text message. The first response I got from both managers was "Who is this?"

I don't know if all cell phones do this, but all of the ones I've had do. If I store your mobile number in my contacts list or address book, when you send me a text message, your name shows up with the message.

I had planned poorly in both situations, but I felt like my managers didn't want to help. I felt that they just gave our their mobile numbers because they felt they had to. Neither of these managers were holding regular one-on-ones with me, and I think the relationships developed through those probably would have prevented this situation.

If you find you don't have all of your directs in your cell phone, take one minute out of your next one-on-one to update it. You can say something like, "I'm verifying all of the contact information I have for the team. Is xxx-xxx-xxxx still your mobile number?" and "You know that you can reach me here at the office at xxx-xxx-xxxx or on my mobile at xxx-xxx-xxxx."

TomW's picture

I have my phone syncing with Outlook, so all my directs, peers, bosses, and anyone else I ever have any real contact with is in my phone (the T-Mobile/Google G1, which I love!)

You could have alleviated the situation yourself if you led off the message with "Hey boss, it's me, your beloved Direct".

Focus on what you can control. You can't make your bosses add your number to their contacts. You can make sure they know who the message is from.

terrih's picture

I do have my directs' cell phone numbers in my cell phone. It's certainly come in handy through these last couple of crazy months when I've been out of pocket a lot. If I have to be late, for instance, I not only notify my boss's admin, but also text some of my directs... we're on a different floor than my boss, and my directs probably would never get the message if I didn't do that. They'd start wondering if I'd rolled my car into a ditch or something.

Tom, I don't think jrumple was asking how to change his bosses... just recommending that we do better. Honestly, since the company issued me a cell phone I don't feel I have a right to be stingy with it with my coworkers! But maybe jrumple's bosses haven't been issued company cell phones.

jrumple's picture

Yes, Tom, I could have handled these situations better on my end. I'm not trying to change my own bosses. I wanted to share my story so that this group might realize there is a potential pitfall out there.

I'm accustomed to texting friends and family who already have me loaded in their contacts lists. I just don't think of adding my name at the end of each text message. I suspect your directs who may use a text message from time to time will do the same and you'll want to be ready for receiving that message by already having them loaded.

It is great that your able to synchronize you Outlook Contacts with your cell phone. For those managers who can't, now is a great time to sit down with your printed contacts list (remember layoff immunization) and at least enter in your directs.

Both times that I've used a text message to contact my manager it has been in a last resort communication situation. Things weren't going well. I was stressed. I needed to let them know what was going on quickly with the understanding that I would fill in the details later. Under that stress, I just assumed that since I had them in my contacts list they would have me in theirs. It was a bad assumption.

How many of your directs will behave the same way I did in that type of situation? Do you expect them to break from their standard texting habits to include their name, while using a number pad to type?

I thought the first time it happened was just a fluke. When it happened the second time, I realized that this may be more widespread than I first thought. I wanted to share with this group what I learned. I'm making sure that I have my cell phone updated so my directs don't have to go through a similar situation.

TomW's picture

[quote="jrumple"]How many of your directs will behave the same way I did in that type of situation? Do you expect them to break from their standard texting habits to include their name, while using a number pad to type[/quote]

None. They would never send me a message in a medium like that for several reasons.

Primarily, Texting, like email, is too weak a medium for anything important. It's possible the recipient may not even know they have a message if the ringer is off or their signal is weak.

If my directs had a cell phone and a signal (both of which are required for a text message), they'd have found a way to call me on the phone. It is a [i]phone[/i] after all.

If they did insist on sending something in writing, all my directs have email capability on their phones, which are configured with full company directories (so they can send emails to anyone, not just people they personally know) and their signatures (just thinking about it, some phones let you attach a signature to texts).

I'd also expect that my managers have better things to do than sit and type in every contact they have into a phone. The admin or IT staff would be much more cost effective to do that. And that would be... how many hundred contacts? You can't limit it to just directs, since you never know who from the company list might unexpectedly send you a text.

If there's time and opportunity to send a text, there's time and opportunity to place a call, especially if you're "typing it out on a number pad." It sounds like the problem is that you need to learn to control your stress levels better so you can communicate more effectively when under pressure.

Behavior that works with your friends does not work with your professional contacts. Time to get over it.

Yes, I expect a lot out of my directs. [i]Effective communication[/i] is at the top of that list.

It would be great if everyone out there had everyone's cell number programmed into their own. Until that day, the only way you can make sure that the person knows for sure who the message is from is to include it in the message somewhere. Would you ever leave a voicemail without telling the recipient who it's from just because you were stressed and in a hurry? Just because they have caller ID does not make it a good idea.

iann22's picture

Isn't it easier to change your behaviour instead of attempting to change others?

In this instance, can you add your name to text messages in the future?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="TomW"]Yes, I expect a lot out of my directs. [i]Effective communication[/i] is at the top of that list.[/quote]

BLUF: Effective communication is getting the message through to the right person in a suitably timely manner and ungarbled.

Do you expect people to walk up to you and, regardless of what you are doing or where you are, start banging on the nearest piece of furniture whilst chanting "Talk to me NOW! Talk to me NOW!" over and over?

Probably not.

That's what an unscheduled phone call is equivalent to, it's a demand for attention when the person making the call doesn't know what you're doing but assumes that it's less important than what they want to talk to you about. Sometimes it's necessary, often it's not.

I'd estimate that around 90% of the phone calls I receive could be handled as well or, more likely, better by an email or text. Phone calls are great when two way immediate communication is needed but when the message is along the lines of "We're going with plan B" or "I'm stuck in traffic, going to be late in. Please cancel my 10am." there's no need for the immediacy of a phone call.

A phone call also relies on the recipient answering. If they're busy, out of signal/away from their landline/dead battery or if they've simply left their mobile in the bottom of their bag and the call has gone to voicemail before they can find it then you're stuffed. Sure you can leave a voicemail, but in my experience a lot of people are very bad at picking up their voice mails (maybe this is just a British thing, or I just know a lot of people who are very light weight and lax). A text message or email will get their as soon as they are in signal with a working phone and, in my experience, most people are pretty good about picking up their emails and text messages.

Many people have problems, due to hearing loss or other disability, picking out speech from background noise. This is made worse due to poor 'line' quality (a common problem with mobiles is that if you're moving or even just turn around the signal can get a lot worse and what was an understandable voice becomes mush) and voice mail systems. When you're on the phone you can at least say "Pardon? I can't hear you? With email or text messages that problem doesn't exist.

Email and text messaging (on digital networks at least) have the added advantage that in most cases you can turn on notification of delivery and reading so you know that the message has arrived and been read. You're not left wondering "Have they picked up their voicemail yet?" Additionally, for email, if you go off on leave you probably either arrange for someone else to check your mail or turn on an "Out of Office" message to tell people when you'll be back to deal with their message and (if you're effective) telling them who they can contact if the message can't wait, you may even be able to set up your mail system to forward your mails to someone. You're work landline maybe gets answered, but does your work mobile?

I'm not saying you should never make a call, just think for a second before you dial about whether that is the most effective way to get your message across based on the content of the message, the context and DISC type of the recipient (if known). Would an email or or text be more effective? A high-D would probably love a text, a medium where the sender has no choice but to get to the point. A high-I probably hates text and email and would far rather you were there in person. A high-S probably wants a phone call on speaker phone so the whole team can listen in. A high-C probably prefers email or text for the clarity.

Personally (high-C/highish-D plus issues with picking speech out from background noise due to a congenital disability), if you want to get a message to me then email or text is the way to go unless you actually need a conversation. If I believe that the person I'm trying to communicate with would be most effectively communicated with with a voice call then I'll go with that, but my preference is always going to be email or text. That said, if I make a call I tend to to follow up with a short email confirming and summarising back, I've yet to have any complaint.

To get back to Tom's point, if I don't know that the recipient has my phone number in their contact list I will include my name and enough context in the message so they know what it's about and who I am.

Stephen

TomW's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]Do you expect people to walk up to you and, regardless of what you are doing or where you are, start banging on the nearest piece of furniture whilst chanting "Talk to me NOW! Talk to me NOW!" over and over?

Probably not.

That's what an unscheduled phone call is equivalent to, it's a demand for attention when the person making the call doesn't know what you're doing but assumes that it's less important than what they want to talk to you about. Sometimes it's necessary, often it's not.[/quote]

With the ability to ignore phones, turn off ringers, and silence phones already ringing, a phone is not [i]that[/i] demanding.

Unscheduled phone calls are the majority of what happen in the world. If someone is calling with something important (as the original poster alluded to), then I see no problem with a phone ringing somewhere.