How to Handle Forgetful Employees

Larry Alton

April 18, 2021

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When you tell an employee to do something, they should do it. When you schedule a meeting, they should show up on time. When you put a deadline on the calendar, they should meet it. Yet they often don't. And sometimes it's simply because they forgot.

The Problem With Forgetfulness

Nobody is perfect. Regardless of how many safeguards and stopgaps are put into place, there will always be moments where someone forgets to do something. However, it should not be something that continually defines your way of doing things. Here are three specific problems it creates:

- Missed deadlines. When people forget things, it often leads to missed deadlines. Whether small or large, this has significant ripple effects throughout the organization. Each missed deadline tends to delay subsequent projects and lead to additional missed deadlines. It's a cascading problem that leaves a bunch of problems in its wake.

- Frustration. There can be a lot of frustration attached to forgetfulness. When a team member forgets to do something, it can leave the others feeling disrespected or betrayed. This ultimately leads to bitterness and a host of other issues that can turn a healthy team toxic.

- Lack of trust. There's a certain level of trust that exists within a team. When someone forgets to do something – whether it's a simple detail or a high-level issue – it erodes that trust and makes people question one another.

At the end of the day, each of these issues directly impacts profitability and the bottom line. If you want your business to be as productive as it can be, you must pinpoint the issues at hand and weed out forgetfulness before it takes deep root in your company's DNA.

3 Ways to Eliminate Forgetfulness on Your Team

You can think of forgetfulness like little weeds popping up in a flower bed. There isn't one trick you can use to get rid of them all. Instead, you have to get down on your knees and pluck them up one by one before they become a much bigger problem. And the sooner you pull them up by the roots, the less of an impact they have on the rest of the flower bed.

With this in mind, here are a few ways you can eliminate forgetfulness on your team:

1. Targeted Training

You need to call out forgetfulness for what it is: a sign of laziness and a lack of responsibility. You don't want to leave people feeling terrible about themselves, but you have to let them know that forgetfulness patterns are unacceptable moving forward. Then equip them with the mental tools they need to tackle this problem at the root.

Train your employees in ways that strengthen memory. There's actually an entire branch of training that's focused on memory retention and strengthening the muscles of the brain that are responsible for recall. An investment in these areas will not go unrewarded.

2. Helpful Technology

Technology is often the root of forgetfulness. We become so overwhelmed with different applications, devices, and incessant notifications that we tune out, lose focus, and wallow in distractions. However, technology can also be a helpful tool for remembering key dates and deadlines. The key is to pick the right technology.

Mass text messaging, for example, can help larger organizations facilitate company meeting reminders, staff scheduling, HR updates, and even building and facility alerts for quick action.

If you don't already have a project management app, now is an excellent time to make the investment. This allows you to assign projects, set deadlines, and keep everything systematically organized in one universal platform for all to see.

3. Better Processes

Forgetfulness often becomes a problem when teams get overloaded with a lot of work in a short period of time. The human brain can only process so much at once. Eventually, an excessive amount of meetings, deadlines, and responsibilities becomes too much, and certain things lapse.

Consider developing a system of prioritization where every task is given a daily categorization or label of "NOW," "NEXT," or "WAIT." Anything in the "NOW" category gets addressed as soon as possible. The "NEXT" tasks are handled only after the "NOW" tasks are completed. And the "WAIT" tasks can be pushed off until a later date.

Adding it All Up

Want to turn your team from forgetful to reliable – from unpredictable to steady and unwavering? It starts with giving them a strong foundation to stand on. By investing in better training, technology, processes, and accountability, you can set your business up for greater success in the months and years to come!

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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