Time, Connections, Knowledge:
Leaders and managers are tasked with developing other leaders in the organization. Therefore, they must, of necessity, share the resources they have with their fellow employees. That is no easy task, if only because the press of day-to-day business tends to keep us all focused on tactical transactions.
Perhaps the most precious thing we have, as human beings, is time. From a philosophical point of view, we cannot tell how much time we will have. Still, we assume we will have a long and
healthy life. Most of us plan our days based on our regular work hours and try to make sure we have time left over to spend with family and friends.
For a long time, as an individual contributor, I focused on being efficient while at work. It took me some time to realize that as I moved up the management and leadership ladder, I needed to focus on being effective, not just efficient. That realization caused me to spend more time coaching my team members so that I could feel confident delegating tasks and projects to them.
Soon, I realized just how rewarding it was to build a confident and competent team. I was able to reflect on just how many of my managers along the way were generous with their time. I did not get to my position on my own—I had many coaches along the way.
During any typical management career, an efficient and effective leader makes connections both inside and outside the organization. In my case, some relationships were passed along by my manager. Others I developed on my own. They took time because it isn’t possible to know which connection will turn out to be pertinent to my responsibilities. In passing those connections along to my teammates, I save them and the organization significant effort and time.
Connections inside the organization are especially meaningful. Outside of the formal organization chart, there are company employees who are unofficial leaders and influencers. They are critical to getting change initiatives implemented and in understanding how business processes are really being performed. Making those connections for your employee helps you to have confidence in delegating tasks to them.
To state the obvious, managers have gained a great deal of experience on their journey. The knowledge they accumulate comprises cultural norms, technical competencies, self-awareness, organizational-politics acumen, and (hopefully) emotional intelligence. Sharing this knowledge at the appropriate time will be adding immense value to an employee’s experience. Passing along this information demonstrates confidence in that teammate and builds trust in the team.
Gallop surveys show that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged. Those surveys (and others) show that employees leave their immediate supervisor, not their job. In his ground-breaking work on motivation, Daniel Pink found that knowledge workers require three things to be engaged; Autonomy, Purpose, and Mastery.
I’m sure you can make the connection. By spending quality time with an employee, by sharing the contacts inside and outside the organization that will make them successful, and in passing along the knowledge you’ve gained along your journey will keep an employee loyal to you and engaged. Because this effort is significant, I learned that the person I should spend the most time with was the individual I had identified as my replacement. As that teammate shouldered more of the projects, I was able to spend more time on strategic initiatives within the organization. Seems like a win-win proposition to me!