You know how frustrating it is to listen to a message that has been left on your voicemail but that doesn't make sense. You may re-listen to it and still have to call the person just to determine what action to take. You need to DESIGN your out-going messages (the one your callers hear) and the messages you leave for others for optimum productivity. Here are some thoughts on this topic (and believe me, it will help keep chaos at bay if you take action on one or more of these:
1. Your work phone should have a professional message. Period. Identify yourself.
2. Tell the callers what to do (i.e., please identify the purpose of the call, leave a number, clarify the level of urgency).
3. If a person has to leave an urgent message, can you or a colleague be reached at a secondary number immediately?
4. Tell how often you check your messages and approximately how soon the person can expect a response. Do not overestimate your efficiency. On my voice mail outgoing message, I use the phrase: "...As quickly as is reasonable."
5. End with a brief closing such as "Thank you" or "Have a great day."
When you are leaving messages for others, follow these protocols:
1. Avoid leaving personal messages on a business phone. If you must, make your message as professional as possible.
2. Identify yourself ("Hello, this is Mary Johnson from Oklahoma City" vs. "It's me" or "Hi, it's Mary.") Explain briefly why you called and the level of urgency.
3. Leave numbers where you can be reached and when it's convenient for the person to return your call. It's especially helpful if you say your phone number at the beginning of your message, and again at the end of your message.
4. Don't demand to have your message answered immediately. If your message is clear, they'll get back to you as soon as is reasonable.
5. End with a brief closing, and remember repeat your name and phone number.
One other idea to consider is this one: Cell phones are fabulous, but if the coverage where you are calling from is poor, then your message may break up and you don't even realize it. Assume that if someone hasn't called you back, it's possible your message was garbled--and go ahead and call the person again. It happens. I'm a fiend about returning voice mails, but if I can't tell who called or what the message or number is, then I can't return the call. I'm relieved when the person calls me back.
Educators have the most influential positions in our society--and need every bit of support that can be mustered. Two resources that will help increase educators' sense of peaceful, predictable productivity are Meggin's weekly emails:
**Top Ten Productivity Tips
**Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay
(c) 2007 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., "The Ph. D. of Productivity"(tm)
Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do via seminars, workshops, writing, coaching, and consulting.