We get it: you’re busy. You’ve been in back-to-back meetings, your inbox is virtually overflowing, and the second you get to take a deep breath, your phone starts buzzing. This is the life of a manager. It seems everyone wants a piece of you—and they’re all taking their share. What’s left when the scavengers have scattered? Is there anything for you, let alone your team? You may think there isn’t, but it’d be better for everyone if you believe there is.
How? First, ask yourself: do I have 10 spare minutes today? (Psst…the answer is “yes.” It’s 10 minutes. You have it.) Then, use that time to do any one of these activities:
- Do a drive by. I’m not talking about Seagull Manager style. Quite the opposite. Stop by and visit your team with no agenda in mind and no directive to deliver. You’re just there to catch up on everyone’s lives. You may talk about work; you may not. Doesn’t matter. Their reactions will indicate what they need from you. If they tell you about weekend plans, they just needed some down time. If they immediately seize you to talk about a project, you may realize that they require a little more leadership attention than you have been giving.
- Send a group message. In person is almost always better than electronic communication, but it isn’t always possible. If you’ve just met a tough deadline, or are at the onset of a of a new objective that needs a little rah-rah behind it, or even if you just want to tell your team you think they’re great, pull up that distribution list and get typing. The appreciation and encouragement you send will improve your relationships, while giving them a sense that they achieved success together.
- Form a team huddle. Set a regular time (10 minutes max, remember!) at the start of every day to rally everyone for the tasks ahead and also to make yourself available for questions and concerns. If you have these meetings on the calendar as a recurring event, you’ll be more likely to keep up with them. Your team will also know this is a time for discussion and they can come prepared. By having these quick get-togethers, you can resolve several issues at once and also limit the impromptu interruptions that can shake up your day.
- Give individual recognition. Sometimes team engagement happens one person at a time. After all, everyone has different skills to contribute and different moments to shine. Take a moment to acknowledge them with a handwritten note or ePraise and you’ll create a personal satisfaction that will radiate from one team member to the next.
- Have a one-on-one over coffee. You need to get up from your desk from time to time, anyway. Why not tie your refreshment break in with some stimulating conversation? Grab a team member for a quick walk and talk and you’ve just multitasked your way to a stronger connection. You’ll not only get up to speed quickly with your department’s goings on, you’ll provide the valuable face-time your employees crave.
- Respond to an overdue request. You know that message that’s been sitting in your inbox for several days? It’s time to take a few minutes to answer it. Your employees know that email is sometimes the only way to reach you. They might try calling or circling past your desk several times before they finally give up and use the new-fashioned way of getting in touch. Just because it doesn’t have the urgency of a ringing phone or a live body standing in your space doesn’t mean it’s not important. Once you tackle the delinquent communications, carve out 10 minutes to stay on top of current ones. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate to your team that their needs matter to you.
- Open Your Door. If you’re fortunate enough to have an office, you know your door can be the barrier between productivity and distraction. Sometimes it absolutely must be closed if you’re going to accomplish everything that being a manager entails. That said, a closed door can communicate a lot more than you might imagine. It can say you’re inaccessible, you can’t be bothered, you’re too important, or that you’re not interested in engaging with your team. You don’t want any of those conclusions to be drawn about you, do you? So, open that door—and send the message that you’re open, too.
You don’t have to do all of these in one day, but if you take time for at least one, you’ll be that much closer to having a better-engaged workforce.
Allison is currently living out the elaborate fantasy she described to her now-former staff and colleagues in early 2001. With a hearty dose of courage and absolutely no plan of action, she abruptly left her middle-management job to become a writer—and today she is doing just that in her role as Baudville’s Senior Content Writer. She’s here to tell you everything she’s learned in her 20-years+ professional life, plus a lot more. She’s wordy like that!