Leadership is a team sport not a superstar sport. What happens over time is that some managers begin to believe it’s all about them. It’s not, it’s just the opposite. It’s about the people they lead.
Allan Ditchfield, former executive at AT&T, realized that you cannot lead without getting involved.
“When leaders remain behind their desks, they loose touch with reality – the key issues with their employees, and most importantly, the key issues with their customers.”
So he created “Donuts with Ditch”. It was a regular scheduled coffee and donuts session with no more than 10 people, chosen randomly, from different parts of his business unit. It was a forum to hear people’s concerns and to gather information as well as get feedback about some of the real issues that are getting in the way of people’s jobs.
He asked one question:
“What’s getting in the way of you doing your jobs well and serving our customers?”
He listened intently, took notes and followed up with answers and solutions. The most important ingredient for success was not the donuts but rather the trust that had been established between him and the employees. He had what he called a sacred open door. No ones’ going to be hurt by what they say. That there will be no retaliation. He lived by that rule. He walked the talk and therefore people believed him and trusted him.
Management Success Tip:
This simple two way communication tool was the grease that kept the operational engine humming. It’s a great example of how leaders can build relationships with their people, create conditions that encourage two-way communication and also get real time information about operational and customer service problems before they turn into big hairy monsters that will eat up time, energy and resources. Also see Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For
Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?