June 1, 2017

Why #3: Blockers.. Blockers everywhere

Picture this: You’re a Sims character. You had a really long day and finally, you’ve reached your house. 

You overlook how hungry you are and head to your room to sleep. Except, as soon as you get there, you find that chair your “player” forcibly put in front of the door as you were working. And now you're stuck. You can’t really tell him to move it because (1) he’s not around and (2) even if he was, you clearly don’t speak the same language. Your health suddenly gets bad and then you die. In front of the room. Because of a chair.

I’m not saying this very situation can happen in real life, of course. However, the impact of obstacles in the business world, even as negligible as they seem, can cause great damage !

We call them: Blockers.

No, I’m not talking about American football blockers. I’m talking about all the things that hinder your progress and cause delays you can’t really afford to have. Be it an unanswered message, a missing feedback, a postponed deadline, or a forgotten report, these blockers can have huge effects on the long run.

But, what is causing blockers?

Do you ever receive a message, you put it aside to finish what you already have on hand, and then forget about it? That message usually goes along the lines of: “Hey could you please check this?” or “Can I get your feedback on this?” or even “So which one do you think I should go for?” It seems like a minor issue. I mean, it’s not like the whole company will stop because you didn’t choose between red and blue on time!

Sorry to break it to you but that one answer, if left unattended to, can cause quite the delay in the product chain. Chances are, the other end of the message is still waiting for you to get back to them. And since they didn’t hear from you, their task, that now depends on you, will be suspended.. indefinitely. Which postpones their next task! And so on.

Now if you say “Hey, I’ll get back to you on this tomorrow”. Then, they will know either to move on to something else or to remind you of the urgency of your input so you could act accordingly. But most of the time, when you pin it for later without letting them know, they will just get stuck and keep waiting for your response.

So then, how to block blockers?

First thing, you need to fully understand the importance of communicating everything you do! Even if it’s to say that you received their message. Never assume that they will figure out what’s happening in your head.

Another thing to do is to always make sure you follow up! Whether you’re the one who sent the request or the one who received it, just follow up. Make sure that the call to action has a deadline, a priority indication, all the necessary information to make the decision, etc. It is a lot of communication going back and forth but trust me, it’s for the best.

Oh and one last thing: try to be as responsive as you can. Yes, each team member has his own workload to worry about, it’s a fact. Replying in a timely manner, on the other hand, will help reduce confusion and loss around the team and hey, the sooner you finish it, the less often you’ll have to remind yourself to go back to it!

Though at the end, we just need to figure out what is really causing these blockers. Figuring your way around them is one thing. Making sure they never happen again is another.

Blockers are closely related to communication in the office as you can see. But does that make communication the reason why you get blockers?

Confused? Well, check out our last part of the serie!

See you soon...