Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ask Nice, Ask Twice

When you are working in collaboration with other creative professionals, there will be times when you will need to ask your colleagues to do something.  You will be more likely to get their cooperation if you ask at least twice.

In research by Tsedal Neeley and Paul Leonardi published in the May 2011 Harvard Business Review, one out of every seven communications by effective managers was a complete repeat of a previous message sent again using a different technology. They also found that managers who were deliberately repetitive were more effective at moving their projects forward.

People with direct authority were most likely to send an initial message using an impersonal method like email or voicemail.  The follow up message usually came significantly later to discover why nothing had happened.  The followup was likely to be in a more personal method like a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

People without direct authority were able to move projects forward faster and more smoothly by making the first request in a face-to-face meeting or a phone call. They follow up with an email or written document confirming the details.

Your team members are pulled in many directions and getting input from lots of different people. Asking them for their help more than once helps keep your request at the top of their minds.

So put down your mouse, walk down the hallway and talk with your coworker.  Or call them on the phone.  Then send the followup email.

How do you ask your team members for assistance?  How do you follow up?