The recent Harvard Business Review article about the growing obsolescence of voice mail, really hit home for me. Unless it’s critical, I never leave a voice mail. If I need someone and can’t get them by phone, I leave a text or email. Doesn’t everyone? What other practices are heading beyond their “past due” dates?
1. Fax Machines. With sophisticated scanners and PDF fields you can actually sign now, why do you still fax anything? If I receive a fax, I still scan it so I have it stored on my server and backed up. I have very limited storage for “paper”, so it will likely get shredded. Why not avoid the whole thing and just scan the item and email it to me.
2. Paper copies. I know that not everyone has a tablet or laptop. But many do. So why are you still making multiple copies of everything for every meeting? I try to be “green” and save everything on my tablet or laptop. One word of warning though- make sure you can open the document on your preferred device before going to the meeting. You may have to save it under a different application. But it’s still much easier to carry one small piece of equipment that binders full of documents.
3. Standing weekly meetings. My sister told me about a standing meeting one of her teammates has but has never attended. Why? Because it gets cancelled every time. Unless you have a clear, obtainable outcome for pulling everyone together every week, only schedule meetings when you really need them. Unless your organization is going through tremendous change, I find that monthly meetings are more than enough.
4. Annual performance appraisals. I won’t repeat myself here, as I’ve written a great deal about the uselessness of this archaic device. Here’s just one of my blogs on the subject: "Resolution #1- Get Rid of the Annual Appraisal"
5. Voice Mail. I’ll give HBR the credit for pointing out the obvious need to abandon this practice at work. As the article points out, why aren’t more businesses utilizing cool technology like Google Voice? In addition to tying all your phones together, it can transcribe a VM to text.
It may not be possible for you to get rid of all these outdated practices. But if you’re a business owner or decision maker, you need to conduct an annual audit so you can figure out what you keep doing because “we’ve always done it that way” and what you can shed to become a more efficient, cutting-edge company.