I remember being in organizations (physically present, I mean!) and hearing that question. It meant… I want to talk to you briefly about something. It’s not a big deal. It won’t take an hour, so we don’t need a formal meeting.
It was a way, pre-Covid, to talk informally. Even if the “stop by” didn’t happen that day, the two colleagues knew that something needed a bit of discussion and more effort was made to connect.
While I have always known that those informal conversations were important, during this pandemic I am learning just how important. During coaching calls I hear, “I haven’t talked to him about it. It’s not important enough for a meeting. It’s not that big of a deal.” And yet, it is.
Here are some suggestions for how you and your colleagues can have more informal discussions, before issues escalate, as office workers continue to work remotely:
- Use Slack or other messaging tools in your business.
- Use the telephone and establish processes for using the phone without impeding on personal lives.
- Change the default on your video conferencing. Do you always need an hour? Will 10 or 15 minutes do?
- Schedule daily check-ins of 15 minutes with your direct reports.
What are some ways you and your colleagues are staying connected?
As part of the partnership review process with my client Don, I just reviewed his 360 degree feedback with him. To put it mildly, Don needs to delegate more and delegate better. Don is a senior leader and here are some of the ways that improved delegation would be beneficial to his law firm and to him:
- Don is a champion at getting new business. If he delegated more, he would be able to concentrate on business development. This would likely double or even triple the business coming into the firm.
- If Don leaves or gets sick, the firm will actually be in peril. The organization is truly too dependent on him. While his ego may like this dependency, the security of the entire firm depends on others knowing how to do the work and do it well.
- Don’s micromanaging is limiting for the people who work there. They feel that they need to leave in order to progress in their field. When employees feel like they can no longer grow, they eventually find other jobs.
- Don is squelching new ideas that would otherwise enhance the business.
- Don complains often that he is overworked and he sighs a lot, which impacts the morale of those around him.
If you have been told that you are a micromanager or that you need to delegate more, here’s what you can do:
- Create a development plan for the people on your team. Include completion of a specific project, from beginning to end, on the plan.
- Take vacations and unplug completely. Allow other employees to complete the work without your input. Force yourself to trust others.
- Work with a coach to understand your own motivations related to work.
- Read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.
Do you have other ideas that have worked well in your organization?
“Let’s make this a parade, not a protest,” said Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, in Flint, Michigan. He put down his baton and helmet and joined protestors, making it a peaceful act of solidarity. The crowd, as seen here, started chanting, “Walk with Us.”
That is leadership. It’s in the moment, it unifies people, and it’s authentic. Sometimes it involves fear, and Chris Swanson may have felt fear, not knowing how the crowd would react. Nevertheless, it’s responding with the heart. Chris would not have been able to demonstrate such leadership if he didn’t care deeply about his community and ALL of its residents.
We must stop saying we are sorry, and then continue to live and work in the same way. Apologies are not enough and action is needed in our homes, our boardrooms, and our communities. If you, like me, want to create positive change, here are things you can do in the workplace right now to create a world where all employees are hired, rewarded, and respected, regardless of their ethnicity, gender preferences, or religion.
Create Ongoing Diversity Initiatives
The key word here is “ongoing.” Diversity isn’t about a two-hour program held once a year. It’s an ongoing process and a culture of inclusion and equity. Create a high-level diversity and inclusion task force, and be certain that senior members of the organization are committed to the task force and devoted to the cause. Provide both financial resources and workplace time. Enact what the task force recommends.
Review Hiring Practices
Create a process for reviewing applications that is race and gender blind. Have someone outside of the hiring process remove indicators of race and gender. (This may include the type of college the person attended, the fraternities to which they belonged, and sometimes their name and address.) Keep only their true credentials which would include GPA, previous work history, and letters of recommendation.
Initiate discussions of race during interviews. This doesn’t mean asking a candidate about their race and ethnicity (or making illegal assumptions about either). Ask questions that allow the candidate to share their opinion about racial issues such as, “What have your previous employers done to create an inclusive work environment? How did that shape your experience there?” And if you choose to ask questions such as these, be certain to ask them of all candidates, not just those who are nonwhite!
Don’t Think You Are Powerless!
All of us must find ways to talk about and create inclusivity, safety, and peace for all. Look at our role models here:
We all have a voice. Please tell me what you are doing in your community and in your workplace to respond to this national challenge. It will be inspiring!