What’s the office manager’s toughest task? Hiring? Budgeting? No, it’s merely getting the whole staff to sign, date and return a simple document of acknowledgment or policy change. Some tricks to try:
• Lead off the accompanying email’s subject line with DUE BY: to get their attention. Always good for a scare.
• Tier the email itself in this order: (1) the instructions they need to follow, including due date; (2) the explanation of the document; (3) the reason why returning it late or incorrectly will create a problem for everyone. Make each of these points in a single sentence—no more.
• That due date? Fudge it in your favor. Make it a couple of days before you truly need the document returned.
• A few well-placed fliers remind people what needs to be done—but don’t bother unless it features a large, striking image to grab the eye. Leave the humor out for this one; staff should know you mean business and need the task done now.
• Shame the stragglers. Late on the due date, a follow-up email is sent to those who are still dawdling and includes the names of everyone in the same doghouse. The subject line begins with the always-irksome TASK OVERDUE.
• If people still have time to comply but you don’t want their obligation to slip their minds, lead off a reminder email with the word COUNTDOWN to haunt them with the image of a ticking clock.