Merge's Blog

Deliberately make yourself available to your staff

make yourself availableI’ve blogged previously about the importance of being present in your conversations with your employees, but today I want to come at this same subject from a more macro-perspective.  Today’s message: be seen, show your face, in other words, make yourself available to your employees.

In an earlier blog post about being present, I was talking about giving employees your full attention when you’re talking to them one-on-one (rather than trying to multitask).  But “being seen” is about being a visible presence in their working day; it’s about making yourself available to your staff.  Showing your face is NOT about ensuring that your team members see you at the coffee station so that they know you came to work; it’s about giving them access you as a resource when they need it.  Don’t be the type of leader who holes up in your office with the door closed, or the butterfly that flits rapidly from meeting to meeting with only a passing shadow to show that you were there.  Employees need open access to their leaders, even if it’s brief.

Keep “office hours”

The best way to accomplish this goal is to have “office hours” – time that you deliberately schedule and set aside so that you make yourself available to your employees to answer questions, discuss issues, and provide guidance.  This can be actual face-to-face time when they can come into your office and see you, but it doesn’t have to be.  Given that so many people work remotely nowadays, face-to-face may not even be an option.  If you happen to have staff that are geographically distant from you, set “office hours” when they can count on being able to reach you by telephone, time slots when they know that you are available for a conversation.  Ideally, these should be regular – say every Thursday afternoon, or from 8-9 AM every day – but it doesn’t have to be.  Irregular “be seen” time is better than none at all!

When you make yourself available, you will see positive outcomes

So why should you do this?  For the very same reasons that you should be present and not distracted in your conversations with your people.  It shows your staff that you respect them and the skills and knowledge they bring to the workplace.  It shows them that you are there to help them succeed in their important role of helping you and your organization succeed.  When you choose to “be seen”, you’ll improve your working relationships with your staff, and as a result, you and your staff will be significantly more productive.

Well, what do you think? Is setting “office hours” a good idea, or is finding the time to communicate on an “as needed” basis working adequately for you?  Interested to hear about your experiences; so share your thoughts please.

2 Comments

  • I love this idea and will consider how to incorporate it into my workplace.

    That said, we are usually praised for having an “open door” policy which I feel has become synonymous with always being available if you happen to be at your desk. What I like about this suggestion is the deliberateness of it – blocked time which is an agreed-upon window for quick questions – you are not “pulling me away” from emails or document review.

    Reply
  • Good to hear from you Rell, and appreciate your thoughts. “Office hours” reminds me of what many of my professors used to do when I was at university — it made a lot of sense then, and it certainly makes sense in today’s manic-paced workplaces.

    Reply

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