MYTH: ‘I will get back to you with an answer,’ the manager tells the employee.
REALITY: One will get an answer only if one insists on a timeline.
Many people say, will get back to you shortly’ whenever any question is asked. They do it because either they do not have an immediate answer or they do not want to answer. The ‘shortly might never happen. The situation becomes acute if the person s one’s manager. Certainly, the manager cannot afford to avoid the subordinate, but he might not give the required priority to his response. The concerned employee may not muster the courage to ask for a timeline within which he can expect a response as it might offend his manager. The best he can do is ask again and, most times, he will get the same response. During this time, the employee will keep thinking about his unanswered questions. This will distract him from his work and may thereby affect his productivity.
Without a timeline, the chance of getting an answer is limited. The employee should therefore insist on a timeline within which he can expect an answer. This will force the manager to think and actually respond. There might be a possibility that the manager cannot send the response within that period, but a good manager would ask for an extended timeline which would allow the employee to remind him couple of days before its deadline. Sometimes, the manager gives an arbitrary timeline just to escape from the situation, but, once reminded, he can understand that he has to provide a response. if the employee does not receive a response to his question after two or three attempts, he should escalate the issue. If this does not work either, he should take the status quo as the answer. Moreover, the individual should use common sense to judge how far he can push his manager for an answer.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE EMPLOYEE? You could use various means to remind your manager—e-mails, reminder- in the calendar or taking an appointment for a face-to-face meeting to seek the answer. You should persist until you feel that the manager’s irritation threshold has been reached. If you feel the issue is important enough to be escalated for a timely closure, then do so.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? You have a responsibility to get back to your employee. A good manager does not procrastinate; instead, he acts fast. It is human to forget, but, when faced with continual ‘reminders, you should make an effort to address the employee’s concerns. Despite your own assessment of the issue as trivial and unimportant, it is vital to reassure your employees.