Is there a leader out there who isn’t busy? Is there anyone who is a little bored at work and is looking for more to do? Um, I don’t think so! I don’t know about you, but I’ve got plenty on my plate. Formulating plans and strategies for the year ahead, working on team members’ performance reviews, putting out the inevitable daily fires that erupt, and attending meeting, meetings, and more meetings. Sound familiar? There’s no shortage of priorities calling for our attention.
As a leader, what should the most important priority be? I’d argue it’s your people. And how can you tell if your people are your top priority? It’s simple: look at your calendar.
Leading people takes time. There’s no two ways about it. Your calendar is a brutal reality check about your priorities. Where you spend your time is where your priorities are. Is your calendar full of meetings and activities related to the development and support of your people, or is it filled with other activities, that although likely important, may not be as impactful as investing in helping your people accomplish their goals (and hence the goals of the organization)?
Here are three simple ways to leverage the power of your calendar to build trust, improve morale, and increase engagement with your team members.
1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your employees – You can’t develop relationships without the investment of time. Having regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with each team member will provide the structure you need to spend focused time with each other. These don’t have to take a lot of time. Thirty minute meetings every two weeks will usually do the job. Check out this post for more helpful advice about one-on-one meetings.
2. Preserve white space on your calendar – Block out 1-3 hour chunks of time on your calendar where you can wander the halls and connect with team members, be available for drop-in meetings, or use the time for whatever you want. Many leaders tend to over-schedule themselves and wonder why they go home at the end of the day feeling like they didn’t ever really connect with their team members.
3. Eat lunch with your team – Sharing a meal together is one of the best ways to build trust and develop deeper relationships with your team members. It allows your team to interact with you in a less formal, more relaxed setting where they get to relate to you on a personal level and not just as “the boss.”
For some leaders their busy calendar is a badge of honor. They mistakenly think that being busy all hours of the day means they are important and needed. However, leadership is about people, and our priorities—and calendars—should reflect that importance.