We all have seen it – the email from our boss asking for an important piece of information or for a project to be completed by “COB“ or “EOD.” Traditionally in business language, we know COB to mean “close of business” and EOD to mean “end of day.” But, what does each of these really mean today? Depending on your organization’s culture, hours of operation, and core working hours of your clients, these can be confusing terms – not to mention a source of frustration if expectations are not met.
Example: If a presentation is requested to be submitted by EOD, does this really mean that it needs to be sent before 5 PM, or just before you leave the office? Maybe it means that it is needed before midnight, or perhaps just sometime before business starts the next morning. If the audience assumes the incorrect meaning in this example, the delivery of the presentation can be considered several hours late.
How to Resolve and Ensure Clearer Communication
In order to ensure effective translation, and be certain that expectations for an important delivery are understood, it is best to be specific about a due date and time, and not use the “COB” or “EOD” terms at all. Let’s avoid confusion and frustration and more clearly state when we actually need something – for instance: “This is needed by 7 PM tonight.” Furthermore, depending upon the reach of your communications, you may also need to include a specific time zone. If you are sending a request to colleagues across the country, the details need to indicate even more specific data – such as: “Please submit by 4 PM Eastern today.”
Know Your Audience
It is important to remember that some professionals, particularly Millennials, would rather take work home and work later in the evening than stay at the office after 5 PM. As best you can, let people work when they choose and when it is best for them, so long as it meets your end goal (by morning, in most cases). Just because you would prefer to complete your work before leaving the office, rather than at home, doesn’t mean someone else would choose to work that way.
What’s the Point?
Clear and effective written communication can greatly reduce frustration, confusion, and stress, especially in today’s electronic global marketplace. The more specific we can be when requesting information needed within a critical time frame, the more likely it is that the deadline will be met accurately. And remember, if this type of frustration grows within your workplace, it’s likely to cause unnecessary employee turnover.
Author: Cara Silletto, MBA, is a national speaker, author, and consultant helping leaders understand today’s new workforce in order to reduce unnecessary employee turnover and retain the talent they can no longer afford to lose.
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