In my business writing seminars, people frequently complain that they cannot get others to act. They would like others to turn in paperwork, complete surveys, respond with their lunch order off the catering menu, and take similar actions. These actions will make life easier for the people in my writing classes. I empathize with their frustration, but together we are often stumped about a reliable way to get the responses we need.
Last week I attended the Japan-Seattle Suzuki International Institute (a music camp for children and their parents), and I saw a good idea in action at the end of the camp. All attendees who turned in their evaluation of the camp, with their name on it, were eligible for a drawing (raffle) right there on the spot.
I have seen the drawing used as a way to collect business cards. People often hesitate to enter the drawing because they don't want to get follow-up sales calls. And I have seen the online enticement of the "First 100 people to . . . will be entered in a raffle. . . ." It makes me wonder: How do I know whether I am one of the first 100 and whether my name is actually being entered in the raffle?
But at the end of music camp, everyone gladly completed the evaluation--and signed it. And because they signed it, they were probably more likely to comment thoughtfully.
Suggestion: If you need to gather people's paperwork, perhaps at the end of a meeting or conference, why not have an instant drawing? You could offer prizes that relate to the theme of the event. At Suzuki camp, for example, we were lured by such prizes as CDs of resident artists and calligraphy by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, who died in 1998 at the age of 100.
I am going to try this inspired approach the next time I need to reel in paperwork from reluctant colleagues. I believe it will work much better than nagging or a threat. What do you think?