This is an extension of yesterday’s post about keeping the phone from interrupting you. Equally as interruptive, are employees. I don’t want this to sound bad but too many leaders become crutches for their employees.
I was sitting in my office trying to crunch numbers on a new project we were considering taking on. What would be the required cash flow? What was the expected revenue? What type of internal supports would we have to invest in to be able to handle the new work load? As I tried to figure this all out I noticed that the whole day had gone by and I had barely figured anything out. I thought about my day and realized I had spent too much time with my employees. There needed to be a balance.
But how could I really get people to lend me more time? I could set a time block where my door is closed, but that would seem impersonal. I could tell them not to bother me, but that would stifle production because they’d be afraid to ask. I decided, I’d just have to make it easier on them to not interrupt me. This is how I do it now.
- Circulate in the morning – take a trip around the office at about the same time every day. Check in on people, this is the perfect time for them to ask you a question, because you’re available. Also, people will learn your pattern and if they have a question or concern, they’ll wait for you to come around. It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance and it’s easier for them to wait on you, then to come find you.
- Let them figure it out on their own – It was amazing to me when I started doing this, how many problems went away. When there is someone there who can do it for you, you let them, when there isn’t, you tend to figure it out. In comes the disappearing act. I often leave the office with my peers to have our big meetings. This way, the only interruption would be your cell phone. If you were listening yesterday, then you’d know if your cell rings, it’s an emergency.
- Create lines of communication – Consider before you start a project who will be in charge of what. Try to consider what people will struggle with and create a liaison for that. This way employees tend to go to that person instead of you. Many executives want to be the person with all the answers. Don’t get into that trap. Your job is to facilitate and monitor. Let those who are capable, do.
- Stay on top of things – When you make time every day to communicate with your employees and take care of problems as they arise you’ll find that, after a little while, the backlog of problems is gone and you’ll be back to sanity. Some days there will be lots of questions, other days, none.