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I sometime find myself in project manager's shoes and need to remind people of duties they have to carry out for assigned projects. I do not want to be too pushy but after a few emails I tend to call them. If they do not pick up quickly I wait a couple rings and then hang up, send a reminder email, and eventually go see them in person. You get the idea.

Let's focus on the phone part. The phones do not have voicemail. As a rule of thumb, I wait for 20 seconds for people to pick up in order not to disturb all the people in their vicinity with the tone. My assumption being, 20 seconds are sufficient for someone to pick up a fixed line, if they are available (the same wait time would probably also work for mobiles).

Is that a reasonable practice? How long should I keep the phone ringing?

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    20 seconds is very reasonable. I would argue that it shouldn't get to the point where you have to call them anyway. If people don't check their messages, and/or don't reply, there might be a cultural problem with people ignoring communications. – AndreiROM Mar 8 '17 at 17:02
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    If I just missed your call (say, I just returned to my desk and then you hung up), how easy is it for me to call you back? – Brandin Mar 8 '17 at 17:23
  • @AndreiROM Your comment makes the most sense as the answer. After a user made comments which I agreed with regarding my initial answer, I removed mine. – Mister Positive Mar 8 '17 at 17:39
  • @Brandin Well, that depends. Something weird is that the IP phone system does not have a "built in" phone log. Which means, if you do not have the windows companion app, you do not see missed calls at all (as far as I've experienced). I'm in a branch office in a large multinational, but it does not seem there is any voicemail. We are more prone to use "phone rings" where other team members would pick up if someone is not there. Otherwise, indeed, email follow-ups are commonplace. – Zakham Mar 8 '17 at 18:47
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    Your company can afford phones for employees but not voicemail? Intriguing. – corsiKa Mar 8 '17 at 20:41
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20 seconds is very reasonable. I would argue that it shouldn't get to the point where you have to call them anyway.

If people don't check their messages, and/or don't reply, there might be a cultural problem with people ignoring communications. Or maybe ignoring your communications.

I would start keeping track of who doesn't seem to reply to your emails, and whether there's a good excuse for it or not (were they in a meeting?). If you can identify a pattern of certain people not replying, you may wish to take it up with them, or your manager.

Note: remember that you can mark emails as urgent.

  • That's a start. I would like not to have to call people in a lot of instances, but I found that it works much better than sending loads of email and then bringing it up to management's attention. Email urgency marks are largely ignored or misused. @SnWhte I've also tried using reminders, it was not very welcomed so I don't really do it anymore. I do see a pattern of people dodging my questions when they are a bit too annoying, I'm thinking about discussing this topic as well on another thread maybe, when I have more clues on how to put it. – Zakham Mar 8 '17 at 18:56

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