– Kirsten Austin
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “pass the buck” as leaving a difficult problem for someone else to deal with or to blame someone or make them responsible for a problem that you should deal with.
As we start off 2020, I try to stay positive but one thing that frustrates me most as a business person is people who consistently pass the buck. This is not only frustrating for me, the person being passed from one department to another, but slows down necessary progress and projects for my business and clients. Let’s face it; we all have certain skill sets and hold a certain level of authority which means, indeed, at times we must reach out to others to get an answer, solve a problem, make a decision or accomplish a task. However, it does not mean that people get a free pass. So what’s wrong with using common sense and some personal accountability if you actually care about your job? This seems to be a growing phenomenon so let’s discuss how to avoid passing the buck:
Don’t Lose Sight of Something If It’s Important To You
When I get a new sales lead, I make sure to follow up within one to two business days or if I am not available, I provide an out of office email and voice mail to redirect that precious person and opportunity to someone who can get the ball rolling. This ensures no one’s time is wasted and any issues or leads are addressed as efficiently as possible. Sounds pretty simple, right? Do you know how many people take vacations and can’t even think preemptively to make a meaningful OOO email or voice mail? Too many.
If You Can’t Solve the Problem – Follow It Until It’s Solved
I’m sure if you’re one of my vendors you know I’m generally a pretty nice person. However if I need your help, especially to resolve a mutual client’s issue, you better know I’ll be relentless in my follow up through emails and phone calls until I get an answer or you help get the issue resolved. Do you know how many drop the ball or play the “blame game”? I could name several companies right now I would replace with another vendor in a heartbeat if I could. Being number one in your marketplace does not matter to me if you cannot properly communicate and solve issues in a timely manner. If you give me bad service it not only frustrates my clients, but also looks bad on me. I worked too hard for that. One thing I try my best to do is always follow a problem until it’s resolved. If you need to pass someone to a new department or a different contact, please have the courtesy to follow up with them and ensure your team is working on it or it is already resolved.
Coming from someone who truly is ADHD and has trouble focusing at times, I have learned over the years to organize myself. I use a CRM Software to record all my notes and follow ups. I also organize my emails and leave them in my inbox until I have either responded to them or solved any issue or answered any questions they have. Both of these practices help me execute clear and concise communication to avoid circling back and wasting more of my clients and my own time.
All in all, it does not take much to take ownership and accountability of your business life. I am extremely surprised at the over-all lack of responsibility I see across the board as of late. One item I’d like to point out is this: If you run a business and you create an atmosphere of people that pass the buck, you can rest assured you are giving your competition an opening for a new opportunity. Work as a team and properly educate and train all employees!