I’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. Continue reading
Are you “present” in your conversations with others? I asked this question back in December 2009 after an unpleasant experience with a professional colleague. If the mail I get on this subject is any indication, this apparently continues to be an issue of epic proportions. Evidently, being present is not something that managers and supervisors do well! So what exactly is “being present”? If you repeatedly glance down at your watch while a co-worker is talking to you, you’re guilty of not being present. If you supposedly “listen” to what a staff member is saying while pecking away at your keyboard, phone or instant message, then you’re at fault for not being present. If you are the supervisor or manager who gets easily distracted away from the person in front of you by other pressing issues or people around you, then you are probably one of the people that I hear repeatedly about.
You might ask “So what?” Why should I care that people complain about this behaviour to you Merge? The answer is because your actions are a huge indicator of the respect you give (or don’t give) to your staff and co-workers. When you can’t be bothered to be fully present in your conversations and interactions, you devalue and demoralize people, essentially telling them that they are not important. Continue reading
Last November I was in Manama, Bahrain and since it was my first visit to the country, I made it a point to save a couple of days to “play tourist”. One of the many remarkable places I visited was Shajarat-al-Haya or the Tree of Life, a solitary 32-foot tall Asian mesquite tree that survives, seemingly without water, in the middle of the desert. Despite extreme temperatures and the apparent lack of fresh water and nutrients, it has continued to grow and flourish, so legend has it that Enki, an ancient god of water in Babylonian and Sumerian mythology, protects the tree. And yet others believe the site is the historical location of the Garden of Eden. Science has a more logical explanation. Scientists believe that the tree’s root system has searched deep, over 150 feet in fact, and has managed to locate an aquifer that sustains its survival. However the scientists cannot prove this theory, Continue reading
Last week, I had a frustrating conversation with a business colleague. During our entire five minutes together, he could barely focus on our exchange. Instead, he spent the entire time scanning the crowd around me, seemingly more interested in what was happening in adjacent conversations than in our short discussion. Now to be fair to him, this dialogue occurred at the national convention for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers in Calgary AB. Imagine for a moment, 250 plus people in one room at one time, all of whom speak for a living. The volume on the decibel scale was in the stratosphere, so in hindsight, he might be forgiven for getting distracted. But at the time, I found it maddening that he couldn’t be “present”, in that moment, in our conversation. Exasperated, I finally gave up and left when he turned away from me, mid-sentence, to talk to someone else. Continue reading