Everyone’s Busy. You’re Not Unique.

  • Do you sit around at work with next to nothing to do all day?
  • Do you struggle to fill your working hours with productive tasks?
  • Do you often leave early because all your work is done by 2 PM?
  • Do the emails and phone calls just stop coming in at 5 PM on the nose?
  • Do you start your workday with nothing still pending from the day before?

I’ll bet that you don’t.  In fact, I’ll bet that you don’t know a single working adult who isn’t ‘busy’.

I’m sorry for not getting back to you, I’ve been busy,” is a sentence that should be permanently excised from the lexicon of business.

That’s the default response that one often receives, and it’s nothing more than an excuse – and a poor excuse at that.  Few of us have enough hours available to complete our daily workloads, and many of us invest a great deal of our time in chasing others for replies to emails or calls that were placed days or weeks prior.  There’s also little excuse for it in the “be kind” era, and when practically everyone has an iPhone in their pocket.

Being busy doesn’t make you special or unique.

Everyone is ‘busy’.  Everyone’s time is limited.  We all resent having it wasted by other people who are time-sinks.  They are responsible for a great deal of lost productivity and wasted time.  It’s not only inconsiderate and somewhat arrogant but is also just garden-variety rude.  It’s also unprofessional.

Many of my colleagues and customers complain about people’s lack of responsiveness these days.  They’re upset when people won’t send Read Receipts, and they tend to look down upon those who don’t record their name or a greeting on their voicemail systems.  That’s unprofessional too.  It’s also lazy and discourteous.  It reflects poorly upon those individuals, and upon their organizations as well.

No one likes being ignored, and no one wants to work with people who are unreliable, disorganized, have no time management skills, or who lack basic common courtesy.  No one wants to do business with organizations whose employees behave that way either.

Those who:

  • can’t be bothered to record their name and a greeting on their voicemail,
  • have a voicemail telling people that they’ll reply within X-timeframe but who never do,
  • don’t use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in their correspondence,
  • must be chased for responses for days,

are jerks and it leaves a bad impression.

Employers that allow these kinds of things to go on are damaging their businesses and their reputations.  To those on the outside, it looks as though no one’s minding the store, or worse, that those in charge are ignorant of how their employees behave, or simply don’t care.  Those are all good reasons to take one’s business elsewhere, and many do.  Just how much is unresponsive and discourteous ‘Joanne’ costing you?  How much business have you lost because ‘Bob’ takes days to respond to customers?  Do you even know?

These problems exist due to:

  • Lack of common courtesy
  • Lack of proper training
  • Lack of oversight by management
  • Poor time management skills
  • Poor corporate culture
  • Poor customer service
  • Inadequate or unenforced standards for employee behaviour

Some of these things can be addressed with pre-screening assessments.

Soft Skills – There are lots of ways to ascertain if applicants have soft skills, time management skills, attention to detail skills, the ability to follow through, obey rules, communicate well, write well, or are team oriented.

Culture – There are also assessments designed to help companies get a ‘read’ on their corporate culture, and which let employees report on what the “Ideal” vs the “Actual” really is inside your four walls.  Have you ever even thought about what kind of organizational culture have?  Perhaps it’s time that you did?

Supervisory Skills – Poor supervision can be addressed with a variety of assessments designed to help managers develop their skills, and for employers to ensure that the people they are promoting have the skills that they need them to have.  Do you have a company wide standard of employee conduct?  Do your managers monitor or enforce it?

Customer Service – Ensure that the people answering your phones have good communication, call centre, telemarketing, and customer service skills.  Take advantage of the many resources available to help you ensure that the people on your front line deliver the best of what you have to offer, and not just the bare minimum with a ‘who cares’ or begrudging attitude.

At the end of the day, courtesy is the grease that helps human interactions work smoothly.  The simple things like hold the door for others, wait your turn, and please and thank you, go a long way.

If your employees ignore requests, are slow to respond, drop the ball, impolite, poor communicators, or a pain in the butt to deal with, they’re costing you money.

Testing your applicants, setting high standards, and then monitoring and enforcing them are easy, inexpensive things to implement.  They also pay big dividends in happier customers, happier employees, lower turnover, increased revenues, higher productivity, and a whole lot less stress for everyone.

Have you got an employee-based problem?

More often than not, there’s a test for that!


David Towler is President of Creative Organizational Design, a firm offering over 40 years of expertise specializing in employee assessments and which has over 4000 different product titles available. Creative Organizational Design has 100s of assessment tools designed to help employers screen out other people’s rejects, assess skills, aptitude, attitude and ‘fit’ within an organization. For more information about the options available and help selecting the best tools for your needs please contact us.  Please send comments about this article to dtowler@creativeorgdesign.com.

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