“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” ~Carl Sandburg
Having The Time To Connect
A client and I spent about 50 minutes during a recent session talking about all the things he was concerned about—meetings, motivating, and accomplishing the goals and objectives for his team. He had developed a good plan and way ahead, but something was still troubling him.
Toward the end of our call, he said, “You know, I just do not have time to connect with my people.”
“Brad,” I said, “We have talked for about an hour about how you can be a better leader. Most everything we’ve talked about can be delegated, especially the technical work. The one thing that can’t, however, and the thing that is the most important thing in helping you become a great leader, is connecting with your people personally, on a regular basis. You just can’t delegate that.”
He said he had never considered that.
Connecting with People
In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, John Maxwell talks about the Law of Connection, and that successful leaders are always the initiator of connections.
In it he says, “They take the first step with others and then make the effort to continue building relationships.”
So how does a busy leader, who feels that they don’t even have time to take a lunch break, find the time to make that personal connection with their team? (I feel that this is the MOST important thing they do!)
Coach and author of the book There’s Not Enough Time….and other lies we tell ourselves, Jill Farmer, says it starts with getting intentional:
“There’s not going to be a magic windfall of more time falling from the sky. It’s a matter of refocusing attention and intention.”
3 Things To Try to Make It Happen
1) Hone those delegation skills.
If you are a perfectionist (or a recovering one, like me), you know that no one can accomplish tasks quite like you can. After all, by the time you show someone else how to do something the way you want it done, you could have it already finished. This is a common complaint I hear all the time.
But consider this: If you don’t delegate, they don’t learn.
You only grow your team or organization when they learn to do things without you doing it for them. Time spent up front, teaching and coaching them to accomplish tasks that they can not only learn to do, but will help their growth, is well worth the investment.
2) Try bagging it.
Try hosting a brown bag lunch in your office, if you have the space, or in a conference room if you don’t. Invite one team at a time, or mix it up to help people connect with people from different teams. Tell them to bring their lunch—it’s informal.
This isn’t about work, so you don’t have to prepare anything, but you might invite them to ask you questions if they desire.
If you are an introvert, and don’t do well with chit-chat, ask them a couple of questions such as: “What would you do if you couldn’t have this career?” or “If money were no object, what’s the one thing you have always wanted to try?” You will be surprised at how little you have to say and how much you learn about people.
3) Block out the time.
When you have an important meeting, you schedule it on your calendar. Since these are important meetings, schedule them just as you would any other meeting. Block out a few minutes every day, or even twice a week, to visit a different work team. Even if you just to stop and say “Hello, how’s it going?”–that’s a connection.
By scheduling it in small time increments, you don’t have to worry about the day getting away from you and realizing a week has gone by without connecting with anyone on a personal level. You might want to add a few minutes in to take a walk, or have some quiet time to yourself (really?).
Schedule at least one 30-minute meeting with your direct reports once a month, depending on how many you have. One executive I know schedules all her team members for an hour with her once a quarter, because that is the time she can afford.
Time Is On Your Side
Nothing can replace the precious time you spend with your team–it affects morale, productivity and your business culture. It can raise a team from one that is mediocre to one that excels in pushing your organization to the next level.
Earl Nightingale said: “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”
What ideas and recommendations have you used to help you make some time to connect with your people? How have these benefited you, your team, and your results? i would love to hear your thoughts!
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Susan C. Foster is an Master Certified Coach & Owner of Susan Foster Coaching
She coaches & facilitates in Leadership, Motivation & Building Great Teams
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