It doesn’t matter what form of communication it is, when the recipient doesn’t respond, it’s frustrating.  What do you do?

When establishing the relationship with your project sponsor, be sure to spend time with him or her to establish communication preferences.  Find out how frequently you should update your sponsor on project activities.  What level of detail does your sponsor need to be satisfied?  What is the preferred mode of communication – in person, email or by phone?  How do you define “emergent” situation, and how will you notify your sponsor of such events?

Here’s a great way to label your emails; it specifically tells the recipient what’s needed and when:

This email is:  Actionable  FYI       Social

Reply needed:   Yes         Optional  No

Urgency:        Immediate   Soon      None

Once you have established your communications protocol, you’re all set, right?  Not necessarily.  Nothing is worse than sending the agreed-upon email only to receive deafening silence on the other end.  Whenever possible, project sponsors should respond to your questions within 24 hours of receiving your email, even if it’s to acknowledge receipt of the message.  Understandingly busy, not all emails can be addressed in a timely manner.  However, a “Got it; will call later” lets the sender know the message has been received and a response is forthcoming.

What is more disconcerting is when there is no response or acknowledgement.  This can cause a tremendous amount of stress for the sender, addressing the issue with a sponsor is much more difficult than addressing it with a colleague or teammate.  You’ve already made the first effort by asking which method of communication she prefers.  You’ve complied, and yet still no response.

A courtesy follow-up through another mode is an option; follow-up on silent emails with a phone call or swing by her office to check if the email was received.  Another option is to continue to do what you are doing, which is sending your message according to the agreed method and then make the best choices you can without her input.  Do keep a record of emails and texts, just in case you need them.

Do you have other suggestions on how to handle the situation?  Let me know what works!

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, www.lisaditullio.com


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