August 08, 2005

Good day, team,

The coach’s challenge this week is about paying attention to people. New studies have shown that customers who feel they get special attention from someone serving them are far more loyal to the company that employs that person. Even when customers have a problem that doesn’t get resolved, if they think that the people helping them are doing everything they can to fix the problem, they are much happier in the long run.

This phenomenon is also true for managers in regard to their team members. If you consistently give your team members your full attention, they will be far more motivated to do a good job for you. Everyone wants to feel special, and we have the ability to encourage and motivate the people around us just by giving them our attention.

As a manager, you are the model of ethical behavior within your environment. Team members look to you constantly to understand the right way to do things. Your attention in each moment is their cue to your leadership style. If someone comes to talk with you and you’re frequently interrupted by your BlackBerry, your phone or your computer, that person will never feel as though he or she was important enough for you to pay attention to. If you say you’re going to attend a meeting and then, with no advance notice, don’t show, people feel diminished. These behaviors leave employees with a negative perception and reaction: “My manager doesn’t really care about me or what I’m doing, so I’ll just do whatever I want.” At that point, disengagement sets in, and the result is often teams of apathetic people.

If we have the courage to be truly attentive to people, they will be more committed to the team’s success. It helps your team members see that, regardless of the situation, you’re ready and willing to deal with anything effectively to keep the ship on course. It makes them feel listened to and attended to. If you do that for them, they will be much more willing to do it for your customers.

This week, go on a walk-about as often as you can. Stop and chat with your team members. Ask them how they’re doing and if they need help. Find out if they had a “win” this week, and if so, what it was. Life is all about connection, and people need to have the chance to relate to you emotionally.

In this regard, I am reminded of a poem by David Whyte:

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry,
and one good work is bread
for a thousand.

Go out and give your attention to your co-workers. You are their inspiration.

And… have a great week!


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