This individual was uncomfortable making decisions and engaging in difficult discussions, and she had what I describe as a “dodge and deflect” strategy for dealing with the pleas from her staff for face or air-time. Her response to an inquiry would typically be something to the effect of, “That’s an important issue and we should talk about it at the right time.”
Guess when it was the right time?
If you guessed, “Never!” you’re right.
This senior leader not only frustrated her team members and slowed progress to a halt, but by dodging their need to express ideas to improve the business, she showed extreme professional disrespect for her colleagues.
Another manager that I coached had a habit of engaging in extended discussions while sending e-mails on his p.d.a. While he heard and acknowledged the words from the individual attempting to communicate with him, we all know that it’s impossible to pull-off this type of multi-tasking and realize a quality communication experience. In interviews, this manager’s employees indicated that they were both frustrated and offended by this poor approach.
And finally, a senior leader that I coached had invested years in avoiding operational discussions with his team members. While on one hand, he let them “do their jobs,” on the other hand, it was fairly frustrating for the team members to go for years without being able to engage, update, seek advice or even politely show-off what their teams were achieving. This omission of attention showed a distinct lack of respect not only for the managers, but for the team members of the managers.
There are a million opportunities for us to shortchange conversations in pursuit of the urgent important. It takes discipline and the recognition that your attention as a leader is one of the best ways that you have for conveying your respect for individuals and teams. These are golden opportunities worth considerably more than whatever efficiency you thought you were gaining from minimizing contact.
It costs nothing to pay attention and the return on investment is priceless! Perhaps it’s time to slow down and show some respect.