Leadership Advice

Great leaders close the loop

Advice from Jill Geisler, Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago and Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

Here’s a quick way to raise your credibility as a manager: learn to “close the loop.”

Closing the loop means providing answers to requests or inquiries as quickly as possible, especially when they are communicated to you by email, text or chat.

When you’re known for closing the loop, you don’t leave people to wonder or worry. You don’t cause them to send those uncomfortable reminder notes to you, “Hey, just checking to make certain my first message didn’t end up in your spam folder….”

You might need time to gather info for a reply or may be delayed by other duties, but you still respond with a quick message, “Hi. I’m working on an answer for you.” And you do more – you tell them roughly when your reply will be forthcoming: “Expect to hear from me before close of business tomorrow.” Then you make a note to yourself so you don’t break your promise.

When you’re known for closing the loop, your replies are complete and clear. If you’re asked two questions, you don’t answer only one. Your messages don’t require people to expend extra effort asking for more information because your initial response was cryptic.

Good loop-closers take the extra step of re-titling the subject line on message threads when the conversation has shifted to another topic. And they never, ever send a message without a subject line, which leaves people guessing and makes saved messages harder to find.

World class loop-closing leaders do something even more important. They think about communication from the other person’s perspective. They consider how important the issue at hand is to that individual. Might a slow reply make them feel unimportant or even disrespected? If the response is prompt and personalized, will it lift that person up? They customize replies accordingly.

As busy as managers are, as inundated with messages as they can be, the best understand that their communication skills — especially closing the loop — build connections and credibility and trust.


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