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William L. Shannon, Editor

William L. Shannon, Editor of CISCA

Doesn't It Drive You Crazy?

for the March / April 2003 Issue, CISCA's Interior Construction Magazine

Imagine a business associate, visiting with your firm only once or twice a year, a great time to discuss issues, compare notes, get to know each other, spending the entire day on their cell phone with other business associates. Why bother to visit you? Maybe the best way for you to communicate with them is to call them on their cell phone!

You are at an important event, you have waited for weeks to listen to an exceptional presentation, and then, without warning, during the highlight of the presentation, some inconsiderate individual's cell phone begins blaring with the Afghan National Anthem? Doesn't it drive you crazy?

We seem to be losing common sense or just plain good manners. Technology is fantastic. The development of computers, fax machines, beepers, cell phones, and PDA's have had an incredibly positive effect upon how we do business and live our lives. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that the technological advancements, created to simplify our lives, are, in fact having the opposite effect!

Why do people placing a call to our cell phone expect it to be answered, any time, day or night, regardless of what we are doing?

Why would anybody want to have voice mail on their cell phone if they have the identical system at their office? Doesn't sound very efficient!

What is the message to the people in a meeting if a member of the meeting interrupts the group's conversation to answer their cell phone? What about some simple good manners!

A major part of the problem is that there are no recommended or expected criteria for proper cell phone etiquette. The various individuals within companies are not trained in what is reasonable. It's about time these issues are addressed and reasonable expectations established.

Let's explore a few sensible concepts;

  1. The existence of a cell phone should not lead to the expectation that any individual is available 24 / 7!
  2. It should be understood that the individual with the cell phone still attends meetings, has lunch, travels with clients and will not always answer the phone.
  3. The phone will be turned off while the individual is in a meeting, making a presentation, with a client and many other similar situations, where the ringing of their phone would be intrusive or rude to others.
  4. The existence of a cell phone does not eliminate times during the day that the individual cannot be contacted any differently than when a person leaves their desk in an office setting for a meeting.

Much of this is just plain common sense! It's really the responsibility of management to be certain that employees are provided guidelines, reasonable expectations, of individual availability.

People who have spent their career "on the road" often do not fully understand the demands upon the inside staff of a company. Employees who have spent their career on the inside of a company often have no idea of the life of a person "on the road". The responsibility for developing sensitivity to the needs and demands of each group fall on management.

Expectations should be carefully discussed and articulated. Acceptable response times, for inside and outside employees developed, discussed and agreed upon. There definitely are occasions where the inside and outside person have to be immediately available, but they are the exception, not the rule.

Imagine if all inside and outside employees used only cell phones for their job, and were directed to always answer them, regardless of what they were doing. Doubtful anything would ever get accomplished.

Remember, we are all in this game together. What is your company doing to address this important issue?

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award

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