One boss I had years ago faced a big challenge. He needed to connect with the buildings and grounds employees he'd just been assigned to supervise. He knew the room painters and janitors had major grievances. How was he going to understand those grievances if he spent most work days buttoned up in meetings in the executive wing? Simple. He spent a week working alongside the employees who scrubbed the floors. He also learned first-hand about the challenges the electricians faced.
In his column for Upwardsleader, Paul LaRue talks about how important it is for leaders to understand what their team members encounter on a daily basis. When leaders remove themselves from the day-to-day process, it’s easy to make bad decisions.
For example, you might decide that your team can easily attend a meeting in one building. And then, you might schedule them for an additional task to complete in another building that’s twenty minutes away. In your zest for efficiency, you may have forgotten that your team members will require at least thirty minutes to travel the distance between buildings. If you insist on keeping your schedule, you’ll generate plenty of discontent among team members.
Managers work hard to streamline policies and procedures. But, how often do they follow up at the detail level to see how well those changes are being implemented? This kind of follow-up requires patience and attention to detail. One way to discover what’s really happening is to shadow one of your employees for a day. You may discover they are following an antiquated process. They could be preparing reports nobody is reading. You may also discover that an employee has come up with a more efficient way to complete a task.
Once you’ve taken the time to experience the work process from an employee’s point of view, you may find new efficiencies in the work process. More importantly, you’ll have the respect of your employees. My old boss understood how to engage his employees. You can do the same thing, once your staffers realize that you understand the difficulties of their work.