December 10, 2012

Reacting Quickly: How it Can Help & Harm You

We live in a world of immediacy where the crazy busy phenomenon has become the normal way of living. There’s no arguing that. We expect things now, and we put pressure on ourselves to move at warp speed. Being the first (or one of the first) person to do something is an accomplishment.

Being a pro multi-tasker and able to react quickly in a professional setting are two desirable qualities. We all want to work with and hire people who can juggle multiple responsibilities and deliver in a timely manner with great results. We need people on our teams who can move at lightning speed (especially those of us who work in the social media/digital world) with enough precision and attention to detail that they rarely make a mistake…and if they do, it’s a minor one.

It’s an art to be able to manage multiple tasks, projects, clients, campaigns (the list goes on) and consistently deliver success without letting things slip through the cracks…or completely burning out. If you’re one of these people, or can train yourself to become one, you’ll find yourself in high demand in both your personal and professional life.

Here’s the problem with reacting quickly: When you don’t take enough time to fully comprehend and digest the situation, you make mistakes.

Sometimes, these mistakes are minor and have minimal negative effects. Other times, they’re more drastic and could severely and negatively impact whatever it is you’re attempting to do.

Let’s look at a recent situation that is a perfect example of reacting too quickly without taking time to read the details:

At my agency, Identity, we’re hiring a social media strategist for my team. We posted the job opening on LinkedIn. Along with wanting a cover letter and resume, we noted in the job description that we were looking for a case study that included specific details. We were very clear on what interested candidates needed to do in order to apply for this position.

We immediately received applications via LinkedIn and email once the posting was live. Only a handful of the 40-50 people who applied followed the instructions the first time and submitted a case study along with their resume and cover letter. If we wanted to be really harsh, we could have completely disregarded everyone who applied without following directions. However, we took the time to reply back to everyone who didn’t submit a case study and let them know we wouldn’t consider them as a candidate without it.

Would every prospective employer do that? Absolutely not. In many employment situations, if you don’t follow the rules the first time, you won’t even be considered for the position. I won’t even get into the grammatical errors and other dumb moves people made when submitting their information to us (no, college senior, you are not a “social media guru” and you are not qualified for a position that clearly states 3-5 years of experience).

So, how can you avoid the negative side of reacting too quickly? You have to find the balance between moving fast and slowing down.

  • Always take the time to read thoroughly, and proofread before you send anything.
  • Take a moment to let it sink in, particularly if it’s something that hits a sore spot or gets you fired up. Don’t allow yourself to react simply on emotion. You may regret it later.
  • Ask someone else for his/her opinion or to proofread. You can build in enough time for this step.
  • Remember when you make mistakes from moving too quickly, and catch yourself when you’re in a similar situation in the future. You succeed from failure when you learn and improve from those failures. Don’t let yourself make the same mistakes over and over again.

It’s not worth being the first, or one of the first, to do something if you move too quickly and make a big mistake.

What are your thoughts? Have you been in a situation where you moved too quickly and made a big mistake? How do you balance moving quickly without making mistakes?

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