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Apr 6 2018

How to Make Your Coworkers’ Lives Easier (Without Making Yours Harder)


How to Make Your Coworkers’ Lives Easier (Without Making Yours Harder)

Reflecting on how you could make your coworkers’ lives a little easier is a great thought exercise. Even a few simple changes can dramatically affect their productivity—which not only earns you their gratitude but benefits your entire team. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.

The specifics may change from team to team and company to company. But no matter where you work and who you work with, these three principles will make a difference.

1. Don’t make them follow up
Simply following through on your commitments will make your coworkers’ lives easier: They won’t need to send polite “just following up” emails or push back their own project timelines to wait for your contribution. If you struggle with this, put in place a few systems. Add tasks to your to-do list as soon as you agree to do them—with auto-reminders when the due date is coming up. Use an email tool like Boomerang to make sure you reply to messages in a timely manner.

And never agree to an unrealistic deadline. Instead, say, “I think [X date] would be more feasible. Does that still work?”

Of course, sometimes you won’t be able to finish something when you said you would, despite your best intentions. That’s okay—as long as you let your coworkers know ASAP. Giving them an early heads-up allows them to readjust; plus, it saves them the time and hassle of bugging you.

2. Be more selective with meetings
Almost every office could benefit from fewer meetings. You can do your part in two ways: schedule fewer meetings and be more selective about which ones you go to.

If you default to “Let’s meet to discuss XYC,” start asking yourself a few questions.

  1. Could we do this over email or Slack/Hipchat?
  2. Could this conversation be folded into a meeting we’re already having?
  3. Can we do some work by ourselves and then have a shorter meeting to share/combine our results?

You also should look at your calendar and see which recurring meetings are necessary and which can be eliminated or combined. Chances are, you can get rid of at least one.

3. Send shorter emails
It takes far more time and effort to write a short email than a long one. However, concise messages will go a long way with your coworkers. They’ll have less to read and digest, letting them quickly respond and move on to the next task.

Brevity takes practice. After you write a message, identify the two or three most important details. Then see if you can delete or shorten the rest.

Here’s a before-and-after to give you an idea:

Version one:

Hi Steph,

So great to see you at the holiday party—I’m glad you’re enjoying the new role. Jeff and I got together last week to discuss the comarketing project and came up with a few ideas. The doc is attached. Would any of these fit in with the campaigns you’re running?

We’re also throwing around some proposals for next quarter. No decisions yet, but the meeting with Claret on 2/13 should help us solidify something. I’ll let you know when we’ve made some progress.


Version two:

Hi Steph,

So great to see you at the holiday part —I’m glad you’re enjoying the new role. The attachment outlines our ideas for the comarketing project. Do any align with your campaigns?


About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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