“New Normal” Executive Themes

June 28th, 2010

My career management consulting colleagues and I have been comparing notes recently on workplace trends, issues and challenges.  A trenchant summary came from one client quote:

“The pressure is to drive productivity and assure quality.   At the same time, we need to stay attentive to the “soft stuff” with fewer resources, more job loss anxiety, steeper deliverables, while operating around the clock and around the world in virtual teams.  Something’s got to give.”

The obvious solution is more attention to leadership and engagement.  Yet, one of the biggest complaints we hear is that there is no time even to schedule regular one on one update, review, planning and development meetings with highly valued talent. Why?

  • Multitasking on multiple platforms is the Standard Operating Procedure that limits time to plan, dream, or interact
  • Many leaders, managers and employees are going on automatic through their day, defaulting into a task, check the box, transactional mode
  • People display frustration and insecurity when they don’t have enough time to properly prepare, think, get or give information or feedback, leading to communication, confidence and trust gaps

And the irony here is that at a time we need leadership commitment to drive results, engage employees and increase morale and motivation, we risk draining our talent because:

  • Teamwork, mentoring and feedback and leadership development suffer
  • Overload and inadequate “touch” time bread misunderstandings, misaligned action, procrastination, risk aversion and inhibit collaboration and collegiality
  • Talented and highly valued executives and managers too swamped to take advantage of development programs, organize off sites or meetings with career management consultants

If your to-do list is overloaded with transaction, and you and your people are suffering, whenever possible, put people and relationship as a priority in your schedule.

Here are five creative ways to schedule interaction by re-framing the time you think it will take:

  1. Plan shorter and more frequent conversations
  2. For anything that requires tone or nuance, wait, breathe, compose and then communicate by voice or in person
  3. Use emails only for quick, factual, short transactions
  4. Demonstrate concern and interest in others by really listening
  5. Provide on the spot feedback and appreciation—it will go a long way

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