Call. Don’t Email.

I’ve seen many impressive leadership improvement projects over the years, solving what appear to be intractable problems at first glance.

It’s often the simplest solutions that are the most surprising and effective.

One executive we worked with was managing a globally distributed team that continued to grow over time. 

He felt the team had become disconnected since they operated in multiple time zones, never saw each other, and mostly communicated with the manager and each other by email.

Talking to team members confirmed his suspicion. They felt alone and ignored. Knowing the data…

… that people would rather be criticized than ignored

…that 25% of people feel ignored at work, and

…people who feel ignored at work are twice as likely to actively work against organizational initiatives, 

the executive felt he had to do something to improve this situation, so he followed the 5-Step Behavior Change Process.

The behavior he pinpointed was speaking to his team rather than emailing them. This was in the days before Zoom and Teams, so he wanted to call team members daily rather than email them. He might follow up with an email for things that needed that medium, but his first mode of contact would be phone calls.

He started to track his behavior of calling rather than emailing and was surprised to find he was terrible at it.

After some trial and error, he found a simple and effective solution.

He hung a post-it note on his computer screen that said, “CALL. DON’T EMAIL!”

Within a week, several of his team members reached out to me asking, “What did you do to him??? He’s completely changed!”

This fixed the problem overnight.

A simple reminder….at the point of performance. In his context, it was the perfect solution.

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