I was working with a leader recently who said she felt like she was just scrambling through every day and could not remember the last time she had any fun.

I asked her, “What is it like to be one of your direct reports?”

She stopped for a moment and said, “I bet it is stressful, confusing, tense and not a lot of fun.”

I went further and asked her to describe her one-on-one meetings.  She said she was often late, distracted and multi-tasking (for example, she would email while “listening” to her employee.)  She said that there really was no agenda and that it often felt like they just hit the crisis of the day and rarely got to the important conversations.  She would finish (often a few minutes late) and then race off to the next meeting. Does this sound like your day?  I know it sounds a lot like the day of many of the leaders I work with.

In our highly caffeinated, always go-go work world of today, it can be hard to ever slow down and really connect with others.  We are constantly getting pings, bongs and alerts from our phone about the next important topic, meeting or task. When was the last time you were in a meeting and everyone was really present?  It seems like people are always sneaking a glance at their phone, laptop or tablet.  All of the noise and distractions keep us from being really present.  We miss out on using the brainpower in the room and really connecting to solve the business challenges. 

We can make a choice and decide to be really present.  In an earlier blog, I discussed becoming aware of our choices and then being intentional with our actions.  Let’s go back to the first leader. 

She is aware that the one-on-one is not going well. 

·       What if she was intentional about being on time?

·       Next, she could ask her direct report what their desired outcome for the meeting was.

·       She could then share her desired outcomes. 

·       They would then agree to stay focused and put away the electronics.

When the leaders I work with employ this strategy, they find that they can finish a one hour meeting in 30-45 minutes because both sides are really listening, present and connected. The direct reports also feel listened to for the first time in a long time.  Additionally, the leaders are reminded how much they enjoy the conversations with their direct reports.  If they are not careful, they might even find they are capable of relaxing a little and having fun!  What, what?!!

I know some of you are saying this sounds great but who has the time to do this?  I would counter that you are spending the time, but much of it is wasted trying to do too many things at once.  Take a moment to plan out your next one-on-one, use the method above, and see if you are able to really be present with your direct reports and/or team this week.

Thanks and create a great day!