What Message Does Your Sense of Urgency Send To Employees?

Larry Sternberg on Monday, November 12 2012, 03:48 PM
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Many leaders are unaware of the messages their behavior sends to employees. In this post I focus on how a leader’s responsiveness (or lack thereof) communicates powerfully to an employee how important he or she really is.

How do you respond when an important customer wants to speak with you? How do you respond when the president of your organization wants to speak with you? I suspect in both cases you demonstrate a notable sense of urgency to speak with them as soon as possible, re-scheduling other commitments if necessary. You respond with urgency because these people are very important.

How do you respond when an employee wishes to speak with you? Your sense of urgency here demonstrates quite clearly how important (or unimportant) that person is to you. Some leaders are quite cavalier about re-scheduling meetings with subordinates because “something has come up”. As Stephen Covey reminds us, “You can choose your actions, but you cannot choose the consequences of your actions.” Like it or not, you’ve sent a message.

Of course, events do occasionally require a meeting to be re-scheduled. The question is, how frequently do you re-schedule, and why? How low is this employee among your priorities? Do you apologize sincerely? Do you demonstrate that you genuinely care?

The need to speak with you is only one type of need. How responsive are you when employees express other types of needs? How would you characterize your sense of urgency to meet those needs? How would your employees characterize your sense of urgency?

Employees who know you care, who know they are truly important to you will be more motivated, more engaged and more productive.

What kind of leader are you? In your mind, are employees there to serve you, or are you there to serve them? How would your employees respond to this question? Ultimately, their point of view is the only one that counts.
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