Estimated Reading Time is 3 Minutes
Takeaway: People follow people who care about them.
Spending Time with People Shows You Care
As the years have passed, I have come to realize that our most important asset to spend is our time. It’s the one thing that you can’t get more of. Because it’s so valuable, learning to use it wisely is one of the fundamentals for management success.
Think of your time as an asset to invest, like money. Generally, we want to invest our money where we can get our highest return, balanced with our desire to safely preserve its value. It’s a good metaphor for investing our time with the people we manage and lead.
As a manager, you have objectives that are boss or company-imposed that you are responsible for achieving. Unlike when you were a personal producer, these objectives must be accomplished by a team that you now manage and lead. The productivity of your team is the key to you achieving these objectives.
Our challenge as a manager is to have our people care about the objectives of the team and to do their part with enthusiasm and passion. We want them to care about what’s important to us. That will only happen if you genuinely care about what’s important to them. And you can’t genuinely care about someone if you don’t spend time with them.
Asking Questions About What’s Important to Them Shows You Care
So what does spending time with your people look like? First, understand that a team meeting has its place, but to truly build relationships with your people, it must be one-on-one. When you spend time one-on-one, prepare in advance with what you want to accomplish. Asking questions about what’s important to them shows you think about them as a person and not just an asset for achieving your objectives. This also implies you know what’s important to them. If you don’t, you now have a starting point.
Following Up with People Shows You Care
When you have that quality one-on-one interaction with one of your people, and you discover something that’s important to them, be committed enough to write a note to yourself about it. Later, when you are away from the conversation, think about something you can do to follow up on that discovery to show that you were listening and that you are genuinely interested in them. For example, if during your time together, you discover that they have a passion for gardening, perhaps you could make a note to ask them in a few weeks what flowers are blooming currently in their garden. Or if you see an article about home gardening or an upcoming garden expo, you could cut it out to save for them or copy the link and send it with a note.
Conclusion: If you want to be successful as a manager, be someone who cares about those you manage and lead. There’s an expression that’s been around for a long time that goes like this: People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
Transformational Exercise: Make a list of the names of your direct reports and beside each name write a short (10 words or less) statement about what’s important to each person. If you can’t identify something or are unsure, make it a point to spend some time one-on-one this week with them to learn what’s important to them.