Timeliness is best in all matters, Hesiod
In my leadership consulting and coaching work, I speak with literally several hundreds of business people every year and I am compelled to write about a very important theme, as I hear it repeatedly.
“My boss doesn’t get back to me.”
“Our senior leaders seldom respond to us. It seems they take us for granted.”
“We have to follow up, often repeatedly.”
“I do not feel appreciated or valued as he does not return my calls or emails, or when he does it is days or weeks later. Does he think what I do is not important?”
“He does not seem to care what I think, as he does not listen to me, or when he does he seems to be merely going the motion of listening, but I can tell he’s not fully present, or does not have an open mind. He is going to do what he wants to do. His listening to my ideas seems like a bother to him.”
Though this is not our intent, we need to be aware that when we do not get right back to our people when they email or call, they feel disrespected. Trust and rapport diminish and ultimately communication declines and opportunities for growth and innovation are missed.
Recently, one very talented, dedicated, up and coming vice president shared her concern that she does not believe the senior managers of her company like her or value her contributions as they seldom get right back to her voice messages or emails. She, like others who reach out to senior managers, only do so when it is something they believe to be important, and thus need a prompt reply for the betterment of the team or company.
Everyone wants to feel:
appreciated and valued
that they are heard
that their ideas matter
Prompt responsiveness to the field offices is particularly important. When people in the field know that the leaders in the home office truly listen, respond and process their ideas, input and concerns, trust is built. This trust for the home office is critical for maintaining a true team. When everyone is on board, with mutual trust and respect, initiatives run more smoothly and all work gets done better.
When I discuss timeliness and responsiveness with senior managers, they invariably say, “I know, I’m just so busy. I just don’t have the time.” We can no longer afford to make these excuses. The health and greater success of our companies do truly depend upon our effectiveness as communicators.
As leaders, we must make the time to be responsive in a timely manner. Busyness is not an excuse. There is no magic bullet, though there are steps we can actively take. We must determine how to manage our schedule and time so we are available to our people.
Each of us has different circumstances and levels of support. We each need a customized plan to manage our time and attention. It surely means less time in meetings and being captured by our smart phones and computers.
We all make time for our external clients. We need to do the same with our internal clients. It’s our people who serve our clients and who produce our results. Our people need to be as high a priority as our external clients if we are to have a healthy company with energetic, enthusiastic and engaged team members and consistently earn the results we desire.
Easy? No! – Necessary? Absolutely!
It’s also the little things that can go a long way to communicate our respect for the other. For example, if we receive a request and we’re totally swamped, we can respond immediately, briefly explain, and ask if we can get back this afternoon, tomorrow or whenever we can be available. Our timely response is important and will be appreciated.
There are resources to help us, e.g., helpful articles, books, coaches. Let’s realize the importance of our timeliness, responsiveness and attention if we are to be helpful and respectful to our people (and not frustrate them).
I write this thinking about the clients and companies I am privileged to work with. Some senior executives are very responsive, some much less so.
It’s a crazy busy world we live in. The successful leaders have control of their attention and are responsive and timely.
Let’s make this a critically important principle of our leadership. In doing so, we increase the trust, respect and rapport between us and our team members, and we fuel our teams and company with positive energy.