You Spend Too Much Time with Your Employees

Having a conversation with a former boss about my team once he said to me, “you know, I think you spend too much time with your employees.” I was more than a little surprised to be told such a thing. Let me ruin the suspense here just in case you are thinking that this is a story of me being surprised by a new idea and then slowly coming around to find out he was right all along, and I totally changed. That is not what this story is about. This story is about how crazy wrong a statement like, “you spend too much time with your employees” is and why thinking like this should never enter a leader’s brain.

Being a leader is hard. You get pulled in all directions and people can be hard to manage and goals are challenging, and all those things add up and weigh on you. If it was easy, everyone would be a good leader and LinkedIn would quickly run out of content. Sometimes it’s hard as a leader to know what to do for your teams. Do you focus on their professional development enough? Are you focused enough on their goal achievement? Are you focused enough on recognition? There are only so many hours in a day right? What are you to do as a leader?

Don’t ever withdraw. Don’t ever think like I was told that there is such a thing as too much time. The absolute most valuable asset you have to give to your teams is your time. They want time with you. Depending on the size of the teams you lead, getting time with you may be a challenge for them. If you manage teams of managers who manage teams, those people want time with you too. Your time is the most valuable thing you have for your people and you should be giving it out to them generously.

We are all very busy as leaders and finding the time might be a challenge. I am here to tell you that this is a priority. What else are you doing leading people if you are too busy for them? What can you be doing in your office that is so much more valuable then spending time with your people? Sure, there are going to be times when you have to close your door and do some work, but those should be fewer and farther in-between than a regular occurrence. Get out there with your people. Get to know them. Talk to them about things that are not work related. Crazy right? I once had a senior leader at another job hear me talking to my team on a Monday morning and I dared ask them if they had seen any movies over the weekend. After my meeting I was called in to the national director’s office and asked why I’m not focused. It’s crazy. You can talk to your people about things other than work and guess what, it doesn’t hurt work.

Spend that time with your people. When you get to know them, they get to know you. You’ll often find that you can get problems addressed and corrected early before they become big issues. You’ll have the added benefit of providing your insight and showing your teams that you do know what you are talking about sometimes and that you are more than just the lucky person in the big office.

Get out with your teams. Don’t ever think that it is possible to spend too much time with your employees. Time is the thing you have that has the most value to them. Trying to step back and say it’s not your job to help people solve their problems (like I had a leader tell me not long ago) is about as wrong as you can be as a leader. When you withdraw from your teams you become the boss. The person they don’t trust. The person who is just there to point out when they do something wrong. When you try to give them feedback, they are going to be less receptive because they will think you don’t know them or their jobs or their struggles. When you spend time with them you become a real team. They will bring you problems and solutions and their engagement will be much higher than if you just sit in your office and hide. Get out there with your people and spend time with them. It’s one of the best things you can do as a leader and you will see the benefits in no time.

Mike BirtLeadership, Management, Teams