approachable Archives - Envision Excellence

Where Many Executives Fail

I once worked for a leader who was very introverted and stoic, and often had trouble connecting with his employees. Morale was low in the office, and the executive had a hard time understanding why his staff didn’t enjoy their work environment. He viewed his role as setting the direction of the organization and delivering results. It didn’t cross his mind that the people side of business was the most important.

It is not uncommon for leaders to struggle in the area of engaging and connecting with employees. Many leaders worked their way up to the top by delivering excellent results; many times in spite of their interpersonal skills. Yet interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are important competencies for leaders to be successful. The ability to connect with employees on a personal level and engage them in the vision and goals of the organization will propel the company to success.

Employees want to know their leaders are human. They want to know you play with your kids on the weekends and go to soccer games. They want to know you can have a good time, relax and joke around. In short, employees want to work for people who they can relate to.

When I first start coaching some executives, they often don’t see the value in spending time and effort building relationships with employees. They see this as a waste of time; something that would be nice to do, but isn’t at the top of their list. Yet this is precisely where most leaders fail. Spending time cultivating organizational relationships will make it easier to get things done through people. Your employees will want to go above and beyond to help you achieve the goals. You will get better results by putting the people first.

This is not a “touchy-feely” subject. I have seen leaders derails their careers by not taking the people side of things seriously. In fact, I believe emotional intelligence is the biggest competency lacking in many leaders.

So take some time today to walk around the office and chat with your employees. Ask them about their weekend or their upcoming vacation. Ask about their kids and share some things you are doing with your kids. Tell them about a hobby outside of work. Recognize them for great performance. And be genuine. If you make this a habit, I guarantee you will see happier, more engaged employees.

Forget the “Open Door Policy”

I was recently facilitating a leadership program, and one of the participants voiced a challenge she was having with her organization’s open door policy. The organizational leaders felt it was important to always be available for staff and that meant always having their doors open, ready for an employee who needed them at a moment’s notice. This manager was sharing that she was interrupted so much, that she couldn’t get anything done! I bet this challenge sounds quite familiar to you.

 It’s time for the “open door policy” to go. Let’s take it out of our handbooks, stop boasting about it to employees, and discontinue our lectures to managers on how they need to be available at all times to create a family-friendly environment. The open door policy is one of the most inefficient organizational practices in business today. It promotes overtaxed managers, needy employees and ineffective leadership.

 I believe that the original intent of the “open door policy” was to create an environment of communication and collaboration, not an environment where people are constantly interrupted and get nothing done. Yet that is exactly what type of environment  an open door policy perpetuates; inefficient work, scattered managers, micromanaged employees, and poor results. The open door policy is robbing leaders of the precious time they need to actually plan and get work done.

One of the worst places you can work is in your office. Most leaders are interrupted constantly all day; by the phone, employees, email, and other people just “stopping by”. What leaders really need is time and space to focus, plan, create, and think. And this might mean working in more “unconventional” ways like in a coffee shop, a conference room, or even at home. Heck, it may mean closing your office door sometimes!

Employees don’t need their leaders to be available 24/7. They don’t need their managers to be nearby in case they need something. In fact, an open door policy encourages employees to come to their manager for unnecessary issues. It creates more work  and more dependent employees.

What employees really want are managers who are approachable and supportive. They want managers who will set clear expectations, provide timely feedback, and get out of the way. They want leaders who spend planned and meaningful time with them to coach and develop them.

So, close your office door and get some things done. Better yet, close your email and put your phone on do not disturb. Take two or three hours to actually do meaningful work. At the end of the day, I bet you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and success like never before.