in Communication

Leadership: 6 Pointers on Having Face Time with People

In case of my 7 year old daughter, all significant behavioral and habit changes have been a result of “face time” – time spent one to one to inspire, inform and involve her. Face time is an oasis of meaningful conversation amidst the hustle and bustle of life – a place where positive difference and lasting change happens.

This sounds simple, but in an organizational context, the hustle and bustle can be far more toxic, keeping leaders away from having face time with their people. Add to this, the complexity of distributed teams and the problem grows worse. People feel “used up”, isolated and disconnected. All they do is respond to changing priorities and task requests and the relationship between the individual and a leader (or organization) becomes purely transactional. Employees get actively disengaged and creativity stalls. (By the way, this is also true for face time with your “customers”). Face time may be enabled by technology, but the ground rules don’t change.

If you are a leader who is striving to influence positive change in your people, here are a few suggestions that may work well to increase the face time with your people (and quality of that time):

Schedule face time. If your to-do list consumes all working hours or worse yet, if you are constantly responding to external demands, you will never be able to spend quality time with your team members. One of my mentors always scheduled 75% of his work day for planned tasks and kept 25% of his time for conversations and exigencies. He considered that 25% of time as a critical success factor – and it was. If you don’t schedule active face time in your days/weeks, it will not happen.

Plan for it: To deliver positive outcomes, face time has to be planned. You can interact one-on-one or in a group. You can organize an open-forum or have a closed door meeting. It can be impromptu or scheduled. It can be in-person or via online conference.

Be clear about the purpose of having the face time: Conversations can easily take diversions if they are not done purposefully. Face time can be used to inspire others or simply inform them. It can be used to gather intelligence or to take decisions. It can be used to build consensus, to educate others or to simply assess progress. If you interact with a specific purpose, conversations become focused.

Ensure dialog: Allowing others to express themselves and listening fosters their self-esteem and increases engagement. When interacting, ask open ended questions, elicit what they “think” and what they “feel”.

Avoid distractions: I hate it when people constantly attend to their cell phones and instant messengers during conversations. It can quickly defocus others.

Watch your language: It is easy to talk about your past accomplishments. It is easy to dish out directives. It is easy to provide wider view-points (and almost everyone has them). When interacting, be conscious about your words and its impact on others. Be specific and to-the-point. Avoid judging others and refrain from drawing conclusions too soon. Focus more on “insights” and less on “data”.

The best leaders I have seen understand the importance of spending (or investing) quality time with their people. Not only did they deliver superior results but also built memorability in how they led others and helped them grow.

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  1. Thanx for the advise and the opportunities to grow. A few more examples would amplify my understanding. For example, could you give an example of “focusing more on insights and less on data?” And is “spending quality time” simply the objective or should we be looking for measurable outcomes (from the quality time spent together)?

    Keep writing it’s helping to right my ship.

    • @PastorJGolden: Thanks for the comment and here are some examples. I have attended a number of meetings where there is statistical overload – people endlessly discussing metrics and numbers. The purpose of any metrics/measurement is to arrive at the insight – the idea of what is happening and how it can be addressed. Numbers, just by themselves, would mean a little unless it helps in understanding the nuance.

      In a business environment, all interactions (even seemingly informal ones) are done with some objectives. In collaborating with the team, it is important to understand the context of the team member(s) to effectively take decisions. Collaboration always happens with some “specific goal”, whether it is measurable or not.

      I hope this helps.

      Best,

      Tanmay

    • @Vikas – Sharing this was my pleasure. Sharing and learning go hand in hand! :)

      Best,

      Tanmay

  2. Great article,Tanmay. I’ll quote this in my blog today.. I agree with you: establish a face to face meetings is one among others methods to leading by example. Know who the people are is very important in any context.

    Have a nice day!

    • Thanks for the comment, Nelson and I am so glad the post resonated with you. Thanks also for sharing it with your readers.

      Best,

      Tanmay

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