5 Manager Fails at Mindful Communication
Fails at mindful communication matter impact employee engagement
We live in a hectic and fast paced, pressured world where time is limited. Don't let these pressures impact your communication with employees or your team
We are all guilty of failing to be present when we interact with colleagues and reports. Many of us don't even realise we are doing it. We walk down corridors, phone in hand flicking through our mails. We over-schedule our time. We grab lunch more frequently with our devices than our co-workers. We multi-task in meetings.
One day I had a wake-up call.
A direct report requested a meeting later in the day, at a time when I was swamped with work. I agreed because she rarely asks for one-on-one meetings, so I knew it must have been more than routine. But at some deeper level I was already resentful. She has a story telling approach to communication and I was worried she would take up too much of my very scarce time.
That was the better part of the scenario. My own performance went steadily downhill from there.
My 5 Fails at Mindful Communication
Fail #1: Focus and intention
My focus was diffused and my intention was dubious. I was wrapped up in my own needs and concerns and didn't engage properly with hers.
Fail # 2: Wrong or no questions asked
I failed to ask her what was going on for her. I didn't ask her how much time she thought she needed.
Fail #3: Body language
I didn't read her body language. I missed that she was not wearing make-up and her eyes looked red. I sat in the power position of authority facing her across my desk. I should have sat collaboratively at her side. I completely lacked empathy I was so wrapped up in my own deadlines.
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Fail #4: Insufficient time
I should have allocated her a full appointment, instead of trying to shoe-horn her in between existing commitments. The result was that we were late starting, as I rushed into my office clutching a folder. I was stressed and dropped it. The first two minutes were spent assembling my file.
Fail #5: Not fully present
I had not shut down my alerts. I was aware of messages coming in on other devices and was distracted. My thoughts were on the messed up folder, which I needed to show to a Board Member in 15 minutes. My PA was hovering outside the door. She started by asking for time off during our year end closing period. She didn't state the reason why up front. Her delivery was long-winded, as she gave me all possible options and I became impatient. I immediately felt let down and agitated. It was all about me. She felt she was offering solutions, which were all untenable.
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It was only in the last five minutes of our conversation, I had clarity on the enormity of what she was going through. This was not because of what she could have done differently, but what I should have done differently and better, as a leader.
In my series of fails at mindful communication, I had failed her.
And this is why employees are disengaged, not probably totally because of situations like this. I am being harsh. I'm also not that important. But cumulatively, those corrosive fails at mindful communication, become debits against the employee engagement account. Over time they mount up.
I have to plead guilty as charged to my contribution to that.
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