by Michael Holland     

E-mails. . . performance reviews. . . status reports. . . draft PowerPoint presentations. . . last week’s metrics. . . information from the senior leadership update.  Are you the tollgate, stopping the flow of information and decisions to your team?  Or are you becoming a black hole – all energy being pulled in and collapsing under the weight of non-decisive leadership?

Avoid this trap.  Determine your areas of weakness that may create inappropriate tollgates to the abyss.

Email – Do people send you e-mails that you don’t respond to? If someone sent you a message, beyond an FYI, it is likely they are looking for a response. When you don’t respond, their frustration builds and progress slows. Develop good response habits.  Briefly acknowledge the message. Even a “got it” lets someone know that what they’ve shared is on your radar screen.  If you are regularly getting messages that you shouldn’t, take the time to let people know how you would like things handled instead.

Build Empowerment – Aid progress by letting people know that if you don’t respond to their email or call, they are empowered to move forward without you, or that they are welcome to bug you again without repercussion.  Create a default turnaround time of X days on informational reports.  No response means all is good.

Do as I Do, not as I Say – Reveal the behavior you expect in others.  Performance reviews are as important as their timeliness.  They do have a “best used by date” that employees live to.  That PowerPoint review/revision process should be within 24 hours.

Key Information from Senior Leadership – Must be timely, which means you are already late in delivering the information.   Are there CNN headlines or sound bites that can be sent out in quick bullets?  Can you forward along the notes ahead of your weekly status meeting? If you need to cultivate the message and delivery is critical, then make sure that you deliver the information in short order.

Be careful. If you are a black hole, there could be something nasty looming on the other side!