How present are you as a leader to your team?

If I were to ask you to recount the details of the conversations of the last meeting you had with each of your team members, how much of it could you recall? Furthermore if I were to ask you what was agreed as next steps/action plan with these team members could you account for having had this discussion with your people?  

Disembarking from the “hamster wheel” has long been a challenge for leaders but more so for leaders in the healthcare and pharma industries over the past 15 months. Constant crisis management has left leaders with depleted energy and focus and more and more of my clients report many good people management practices they previously had established with their people such as regular formal/informal check in meetings have not been happening or if they have been; are rushed affairs. Leaders are finding that due to other competing demands for their attention that they are regularly distracted in their interactions with team members and frequently miss cues or clues around disengaged employees or worse still fail to pick up on signals of employee stress or interpersonal difficulties.

The ability to place your attention and your intention as a leader fully on the other person helps create a shift from a transactional conversation to a connected meaningful conversation. Leaders only succeed when their teams are engaged, motivated and feel supported to undertake their role and perform at their best. The costs of transactional distant conversations are huge when you compare them with the outcomes of interactions where people feel engaged. The credibility of leaders (even those who were previously held in high regard) can be quickly diminished when team members  feel dismissed and unheard particularly when they too are experiencing the effects of uncertainty, never ending workload and change.

I often share the motto of a client I had the pleasure of working with some time ago which was "only partake in an interaction with your people if you can commit to fully engaging". Many leaders agree to requests for “can I have a minute” from team members which:

a.       Usually turns out to require much more than one minute of their time (but the leader may not want to appear unhelpful by saying no)

b.       Almost always is an unproductive interaction for both due to environmental distractions or where their focus may be on where they are coming from or going to next

It is much more effective to politely decline (once it has been determined this is not an issue that requires an emergency response) the “on the go chat”, check what they need to discuss, gauge how much time is required for this person and schedule it for a later time where you and they can fully engage.

If you feel you are not as present as you should be to your team consider the following:

  • Develop an awareness of how present you are both in individual and team interactions by recalling recent interactions and identify what (or maybe who) were the distractions.
  • Develop (or return to) good relationship building practices such as setting aside regular check in sessions (even 15 minutes focused discussion is impactful) with team members which will help identify any bubbling issues or challenges at an early stage.
  • For those leaders who are at the stage of overwhelm around disengagement levels and find they are challenged to see the wood from the trees, engaging with a coach can often help leaders navigate current challenges and begin to devise a long term strategy to build and sustain positive workplace relationships.

Book a free 30 minute discovery call today to take a helicopter view of where you are at and how you can begin to enhance workplace relationships.

To get a sense of the leadership work I do around developing leaders workplace relationship skills, join me on the 31st March at 7pm for a free webinar entitled “How to manage conflict without damaging relationships. For more information and to book :