Ever watched the programme ‘Undercover Boss’? A senior executive goes to work undercover as a junior employee in his/her business to find out what it is like that level. I stopped watching it after a while because I got tired of hearing lines like “I never knew this was happening”, or “I never thought we had people like that.” I always wanted to ask: “Why didn’t you know?”
Whilst it is obviously impossible for senior execs to know everyone and everything at all levels in a big company, I have always found it essential to make some time to get out of the office and just ‘walk the floor’. Before you scream “I haven’t got time for that”, I can honestly tell you that this has always saved me time. Just a few minutes here and there, sometimes talking about work, sometimes about their families or favourite sport or hobby, is a really worthwhile investment. After the initial shock of seeing that you are willing to relate to them like this, they will often surprise you by how much they are willing to share (thereby further boosting engagement) and by the quality of their ideas and observations.
Most of us are sold on the need to invest time with our immediate teams, but finding just a little more to reach out further will often yield significant rewards (including saved time).
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