Pounding the Pavement
It is my opinion that there are three types of individuals in this world: those who sacrifice their life for a noble cause or religious vocation, those who seek employment and climb the management ranks, and the entrepreneur. The latter creates opportunities and employs those who seek to climb the management ranks.
This post specifically focuses on those who seek to climb the management ranks, whether consciously or whether it just happens. As you climb the management ranks, you will realize that each rung you climb requires a unique set of skills and presents a unique set of challenges. It is your job to uncover what works and to seek help or acquire new skills to make it happen.
In the last four years, I have noticed a significant change as I was given the opportunity to do more. I got busier and busier and days go by really fast. I realize that in order for our organization to succeed, I need to avoid being the bottleneck. I also realize that making myself less relevant will enable the team to move forward. By that I mean raising leaders around us and coaching and mentoring them. More importantly delegating key projects and empowering them to make decisions where applicable. This is not easy because you need to be selfless.
As my responsibility doubled and quadrupled, I had to step back and reflect on the best way to make us successful. Like anything else, it is a work in progress. Learning to ask the right questions and learning to say NO was essential. I also realized that I don't have the time to meet and get to know my people. Their precious time is hard to come by, therefore I need to learn to be efficient and proactive about it. One on one, one to many, walking the floor between meetings to talk and engage our team -- I call it pounding the pavement. Walking and seeking your people in their workspace can make them comfortable. Getting to know them beyond work topics is also essential. Asking about their family without prying for too much information, a casual engagement that can make them feel valuable. At least you notice them. Pounding the pavement is a great analogy for being proactive about your interactions. There is no topic or agenda, but heartfelt engagement.
I learned that there is no such thing as over communication. When there is anxiety, it is best to step up and say that there is nothing to share. By doing so, you can squelch water cooler gossip. Silence in time of uncertainty is like adding fuel to a fire. It can never end well.
No matter what level of management you're in, make sure you stay connected with your people. Because people are our most important asset. In order for your organization to succeed, they must communicate the vision and goals of what they are trying to accomplish. Pounding the pavement is good for you in many ways; it will ensure that you stay connected with your people and walking around will keep your blood flowing and keep you active.