Setting the tone for the day begins almost immediately as you walk through the door. If you come in and immediately begin working on “your stuff”, you tend to become engrossed in your stuff. Over time, you appear out of touch. Employees eventually get the hint…you’re busy, better not bother you. They will begin looking at you as someone who is detached from what they do, an outsider. Even if this isn’t your intent.
I get that you’re swamped. But, if you are earning the reputation of someone who is disconnected, it’s most likely because you aren’t in the trenches, checking in and feeling the vibe. This is how you connect with their everyday.
Offering, “My door is always open” is great, but you are relying on them to initiate the conversation. That can be intimidating believe it or not. Those should be your parting words once you’ve checked in with them, they know you mean it because your actions tell them.
How to get this handled? Walking The Floor
The reason ‘walking the floor’, ‘making the rounds’…whatever you call it…is challenging at times is because it seems pointless yet requires your time and effort. It can feel redundant and exhausting (aren’t challenges presented just sometimes complaints? Yes, that happens too). So, it is one of the parts of leadership that you will swiftly see take a backseat once a leader feels comfortable enough. The impact is not always immediate, but when you stop, you are incredibly missed and morale slips. Have you ever skipped doing rounds? Don’t you feel a bit guilty as you happen to bump into people later in the day? I know I did…I always felt like I snuck in. Whenever I felt like cutting that corner, I remembered that guilt and went on my rounds.
Why this is important;
Connection: People are way too intuitive to know if you really care or are just pretending. You’re ability to relax, get out of work mode, and exchange pleasantries is what establishes these connections.
Recruit feedback: What’s working, what's not. Involvement is a true path to ownership.
Pay attention: How do things look? What’s the vibe? This walk thru is a quick and effective way to keep a pulse on what choices they are making.
This very important interaction can even be measured! How many times did I walk the floor this week? How many people did I interact with? If that helps you feel better about it, then employ that data! Make it work for you! Consistency is key. If you do this sporadically, that’s what you will get in return. Your team will not buy in to your concern. You will most likely receive short, sometimes curt, replies. Commit to do this everyday and you will begin to get real answers and solve real problems. Showing up keeps that connective thread very real.
The impact can also be revealed in assessments. For example, asking: Do they feel supported by a manager, and the answer is no, then there is a disconnect there between caring for the team and understanding their plight.
Change that metric around. Connect with them…their day to day is part of your day to day. You are in this together.