One of my team members is very slow to reply to emails. Frequently the topics addressed are time sensitive and her lack of response is impacting team performance. What can I do?
Just fire the person! Get the trouble maker out of the team and move on!!
Okay – are you all awake now? My response above may be necessary, but there are a several things you can do before you reach that stage.
Start by talking to the team member about why her response time is so slow. Is it because she doesn’t understand the importance of the issue? Or is it because she views email as a necessary evil and avoids it as much as possible? Or maybe it’s because her email in box is out of control and she just doesn’t notice the important messages because they are buried under hundreds of other emails.
Once the reason for the slow response is targeted you are ready to plan a method to improve responsiveness. Consider asking her: ‘What do you think would solve this issue?’ If she knows, and it’s a good alternative, then switch to this method. Just be sure that she understands that she will now be held to a higher level of responsiveness than in the past. In fact, be very specific about how quickly you expect her to respond: is it within 15 minutes, an hour, or a day?
If the alternative suggested by the team member is not viable or if she has no idea how to improve, move on to brainstorming ideas that will meet everyone’s needs. Remember not to throw out crazy ideas immediately. Some of my best solutions resulted from an initial outlandish idea that I merged with a more conventional idea to make it workable.
As ideas are being discussed pay attention and see if you can determine the root cause of the problem. Frequently, this type of issue may result from a lack of organization that the individual has no idea how to overcome. If this is the case, address the functionality of the email software being used that can highlight key emails as being urgent. However, it can also be behaviorally based. In this case it is important to discuss why she is resistant to working within the current system.
Frequently, situations like this can be resolved by changing the process to accommodate the team member’s work style. And sometimes, the entire team will benefit from the change. However, in rare situations you may find that regardless of the changes made the team member involved will still exhibit behavior that is substandard. At that point, if team performance is being impacted you may need to replace the team member and move forward without her.
What ideas do you have that might help Cheryl? Perhaps something you’ve done that worked? Visit our Facebook page and leave a post today!