Time Management and the Hierarchy of Communication

Executives often wake up to find hundreds of emails in their inbox. Out of these hundreds there might be half that they entertain and read. Divide those in half and you might find the actual number of emails that get responses. Perhaps one more divide would result in messages that directly involve the individual executive. Colleagues often forget the hierarchy of communication and how it is directly related to time management. Executives should not be burdened by minimal tasks or issues that arise as employees progress with their responsibilities; they should simply see a well-put-together result.

Not every email sent out must reach the inbox of the tip of the pyramid. More often than not there is someone you may have already collaborated with who can answer your questions accurately and in a timely manner. How do you know who to contact?

  • Downward Communication: When presented with a task that needs to be completed, it might be best to delegate responsibilities to those who report to you. This way you will be able to place an expected date of completion (EDC) and hold those you manage accountable.
  • Seek Out the Source: There are times when more information is needed before completing or managing a task. First, look to those who specialize in that genre of information. Is it something about marketing? Contact the marketing department. Are you looking for files regarding a previous contract? Perhaps you should look for someone who is in administrative support. Going straight to the source of information will quickly lead you to where you need to be without being pointed in several directions and wasting precious time on the clock.
  • Upward Communication: It is best practice to begin your day by asking your superior what information or task completions they need you to accomplish that day. Ideally, subordinates present their results to their superiors without having to go through them to assist in the process. If the information can’t be found any other way, seek out the person you directly report to for assistance. Notice the specification of “directly report to”. This does not mean contacting the head of the company or ignoring the hierarchy of communication.

The most important take away from this information is to hold off on including the top level of management on all of your emails. Although you may think it is good for you to keep them in the know, you do not want to be the cause of those pesky emails piling up in their already flooded inbox. Collaborate with those around you; do not CC or contact the company head if it is a minimal task or does not directly relate to them. This is the best way to utilize your talents and make effective moves in a timely fashion.

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