(Not-so) common courtesies

I never cease to be amazed that my ordinary, everyday way of conducting business impresses my clients and team mates. It turns out not everyone operates like I do. What I take for granted–my normal–isn’t normal for everyone.

What do these things look like, you may ask? Here’s a short list.

  • Be prepared: When you show up at a client meeting or even an internal meeting, it’s so important to do you homework ahead of time. Who’s attended meetings where a fraction of the participants haven’t done their homework? {raises hand} What about a meeting where the organizer hasn’t done her homework and asks everyone to take 15 minutes to “review the material”? {raises hand} And so what are the people who actually did their homework supposed to do for those 15 minutes?! What a waste of time.
  • Show up on time: I can count on one hand the number of times I haven’t shown up to a meeting on time. Time is a gift we’re all given, and it’s more precious than most of us remember. We often take it for granted. But, as they say, time is money. Next time you’re in a meeting, multiply the time spent in the meeting by each person’s hourly rate (estimate if you need to) and calculate the value in dollars of the time spent in that meeting.
  • Take notes: If you’re like me and you’re juggling multiple priorities and projects there’s no way you can remember everything. I take copious notes because the act of taking the notes actually helps me remember the material better. I also like to be able to look back and recall how and why we came to certain decisions in the meeting, so I take notes. My summary always includes my WWWs.
  • Do what I say I’ll do: One of the reasons I make notes on WWWs is so that I can remember what I said I’d do. First thing I do after a meeting is add my WWWs to my task list. I use Toodledo. First thing I do when I start working on a new project is break the project down into actionable tasks and add them to my list along with dates. It’s project management 101. But it’s more than that. When you do what you say you’re going to do, you build trust.
  • Give people a heads up: If, for any reason, I’m unable to accomplish something on time, I give my client and/or team members notice as soon as I understand there’s going to be a delay. One, it builds trust. Two, the thing I’m working on may affect their priorities, which means they may wish to reprioritize their task lists accordingly. Three, sometimes it turns out that another member of the team can either help me out or even eliminate the step altogether. Communication is always the way to go.

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