We all know keen focus is essential to getting your work efficiently accomplished. But sometimes this strategy can backfire because your focus precludes you from noticing important interpersonal dynamics. You may have been pushing results at the expense of building relationships with team members.
With this in mind, I have coached many leaders to take time to connect with team members. It may feel like a waste of time to them, because it's not directly driving results, but it creates great long-term value by making them more engaged and motivated.
Here are two ways to connect with team members quickly and effectively:
1. Leverage LinkedIn.
Many leaders tell me they feel frustrated because there is just too much work to get done to also worry about relationship building. But in fact, I have found that when many leaders grow new initiatives, it is even more crucial to take the time during the week to build relationships.
When we discuss this strategy, managers often tell me they have a distaste for networking. I don't believe this is networking, at least not in the traditional sense of going to a conference or other such activities. It's just adding new ways to learn.
A simple technique that a time-starved CMO used was to leverage LinkedIn to help him reach out to reconnect with other industry leaders and former colleagues. He couldn't meet with someone for coffee every week, but this was a small activity he could comfortably commit to.
Using LinkedIn, he sent personal notes and posted updates. As a result, he was able to hear about new and interesting marketing opportunities, as well as what was going on in the industry, which helped him with his own team's issues.
2. Hold brief one-on-one meetings.
You might assume if you don't hear from your teams that all their initiatives are running smoothly. But rarely is this the case, and in fact there are many times you can have a very disenfranchised team member go unnoticed.
On the other hand, you can also miss out on great side conversations that might ultimately help the team. To alleviate this issue, I coach leaders to use the simple strategy of reaching out to their team more during the week.
This doesn't mean you have to set up hour-long meetings with everyone--a 30 or 15 minute meeting will do in many cases. But remember that this meeting should not be just a status update. Use this meeting for a more meaningful discussion on goals, or how they might refocus their efforts on projects.
One CTO I worked with leveraged this strategy to motivate his teams during difficult times. In addition, he found that he could be more transparent with his issues because he was building deeper relationships with the team.
While it is important to prioritize and focus on key initiatives, there are many times when it can hurt you along the way-- especially when it comes to building relationships and listening to your teams. With these strategies, you can use small pockets of time to connect more deeply.