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How To Be More Available Without Over Burdening Yourself

No funny business here. NBC-TV's billion-dollar man, Jay Leno: One reason he does not use an agent anymore is that he doesn't want anyone to speak for him and possibly offend a client or fan. [Church of the Customer]

Instead of stowing yourself away behind protective barriers like some executives do, if you want to influence the people around you, consider getting out among the regular people. Leaders who isolate themselves become sheltered and become myopic in thinking. Before you say you don't have the time-- Here are a six ways to get out among clients, employees, and partners without over burdening your schedule.

  1. Make small communications promises that you can keep. If you don't think you'll be able to get a report to a customer by a specific time, then let them know. Even better, delegate the task to an employee who can turn the report, phone call, or other information around faster.
  2. Learn to make communications meaningful at every interaction. Never just touch base with a client, employee, or partner unless you have a specific message of value to them. Even if it's just to inquire on their results or satisfaction with a project, never waste time with useless chatter.
  3. Frame your actions to advance the other persons objectives. If you're going to interact with those around you, why not build credibility by helping them accomplish meaningful tasks. Be personable by remembering what is important to them, not always talking about your own needs.
  4. Clearly define what situations should move directly through gatekeepers. Your receptionist and administrative support can save you time, but there are certain things that should be handled by you immediately. Talk with staff members regularly about those things you want to hear about without delay, even if you have to be interrupted.
  5. Ask "How would you..." questions of those people in the front lines familiar specific challenges. You will be surprised by the value people in the trenches can share when you ask them how they would solve certain problems. If they have even the remotest familiarity with the problem, they probably have a workable solution you should know about.
  6. Spend time listening and echoing key points of what you hear. While you are probably busy, set aside a bit of time just to listen to what your people are saying. Establish dialog around key points of interest, even recalling them later in correspondence for clarification and verification.

Doing these things will move you away from useless glad-handing and toward meaningful dialog that will improve your business relationships. Getting out of your office 2 or 3 times a week will give you a new prospective on your business. You'll gain so many new ideas speaking with clients, employees, and partners that any challenge you face will be quickly be overcome.

In my comments to Ben McConnell original message, mentions three situations where you might want to invite your staff to interact more frequently, instead of being in the forefront. Every situation is different, my hope is you'll be able to recognize what is right for you and take action accordingly. Write with your questions.

/ applying-strategy | clearly-communicate /

By Justin Hitt at February 29, 2004 10:23 AM  Subscribe in a reader

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