Merriam Webster defines responsiveness like this: reacting in a desired or positive way; quick to respond. We all probably think about speed when we think about responsiveness, too, but how many of us take the time to make sure our responses are positive?
I think a positive response is as important as a speedy one, which is why responsiveness is the core value that resonates most with me, and it’s the core value that proves the most challenging for me. Let me explain.
I spent 20 years working in television news. Speed matters. In fact, most journalists would say they live and die by their deadline. I prided myself on never missing a deadline. I responded to every assignment quickly. I learned to talk fast, walk fast, read fast, write fast. I even sign my name so fast it’s become illegible. That deadline mentality has traveled with me into my work with social media. I like to respond to email quickly and tackle tasks sooner rather than later. My speedy work is appreciated by clients who value a quick answer or quick work. Our goal at Weaving Influence is to respond to all messages or requests within 24 hours unless, of course, there’s an emergency need. I can do this in my sleep. Mr. McFeeley isn’t the only one who believes in speedy delivery.
Responsiveness becomes a challenge for me when it gets in the way of accuracy or thoroughness. Mark Miller cautions us “not to move so fast we miss the obvious things.” I need to paint that on the wall above my desk. Because speed or responsiveness has become such an important part of how I work, it occasionally edges out quality, and that’s not acceptable. A speedy response that is sloppy or inaccurate or comes across in a sharp way doesn’t help anyone. It’s not offering value or a service. Yes, we all make mistakes and we always will — but sloppy mistakes because we were moving too fast? We can do better than that. I can do better than that… well, I’m trying to do better than that.
So the challenge with responsiveness comes down to balance. We have to balance our days so we respond in a timely manner, while taking the necessary time to offer a thorough, positive response. We have to find the ways to motivate ourselves to speed up or slow down- whichever is our greatest challenge- and we must always find a moment to take a breath and look at the quality of our response.
Responsiveness is the core value that is teaching me the most right now. I will be honest — I’m not always a willing student. Years of a deadline-driven mentality aren’t easy to shake, but I’m trying. Everyday.
Tell me something! How are you trying to be responsive?