I continually get emails from my team that make me crazy. I don’t know why they’re pushing back so often or if they’re just not listening. I’ve tried to get to the bottom of this and get nowhere. I have to resolve this because it wastes so much of my time. Any suggestions? M.M., Brooklyn, NY
Well, it’s obvious that there’s a disconnect on both sides. They are reaching out because they aren’t getting something that they need, and you are obviously frustrated.
Rather than assume that they’re demonstrating a negative behavior (“not listening” or “pushing back”), which can lead you down an energy-wasting path, create a neutral or positive interpretation such as, “They are interested in my opinion,” etc.
If this is happening with the entire team, call a meeting. If you’re virtual, have a conference call. Come prepared with examples from each person of the types of emails that are problematic.
Begin by stating that you want their help. You’ve noticed that you aren’t meeting their needs because they have to email you multiple times. You want to change that. You’ve brought examples from each of them so they can help you help them. Note: you don’t want to discuss the specifics of their emails—you just want to show them examples of what you find problematic. They may be completely unaware that there is any problem with their behavior.
Engage them in brainstorming solutions. I strongly suggest that you recommend that they start their emails with their request–I need your approval for X by tomorrow, I am venting about Y, etc. And decide what they should do if they aren’t getting the response they need—should they call you, drop by, or email again? Having this meeting will clarify for everyone the behaviors that need to happen.