Starting this week, Congress will begin its two-week recess. For Congress, a recess means a temporary break on daily proceedings. Business is put on hold.
In the upheavals of an eventful few weeks in the White House, this time off will allow Congress to visit with constituents, attend local events and simply regroup. Some even may be able to take a vacation. Yet, for most, it is simply a time to reconnect with their people and their districts.
As leaders, we can too often let the busyness of to-do lists get in the way of time with our teams. Any extra time we have is often used to network, play catch-up, increase production, and bring numbers up. While Congress welcomes a regular recess, we would do well to follow their lead. By learning to make the most of any slow seasons we may have, we can learn to invest and connect with our employees in new ways.
Here are seven ways to invest in your team when it’s time for a recess:
- Engage in follow-up meetings. If you’ve had recent discussions with employees on matters yet to be resolved, set up a time with them to follow up on the issue. If you’ve had employees who you’ve been unable to respond to meeting requests with, take the time to meet with them.
- Immerse yourself in the day to day. Visit quarters of your organization you wouldn’t see in a typical week. Familiarize yourself with all the facets of your company and workers you have yet to meet.
- Get your hands dirty. Ever heard of the show "Undercover Boss?" You don’t need to go undercover, but by taking part in each aspect of your company, you will gain a new understanding of your team. Step away from the comforts of your current norms to familiarize yourself with the roles of those under your supervision.
- Welcome random connections. When in between meetings and appointments, embrace the random brief moments to speak and connect with your workers.
- Keep conversations focused on the individual. When opportunities arise, connect with your employees and ask questions about them. Ask about their home life, career goals, and aspirations. Get to know your people, and not just what they do at work.
- Enter conversations without an agenda. To genuinely connect, you don’t always need an agenda. Oftentimes an agenda is exactly what you don’t need. Too often as leaders and managers, we’ve already determined what our conversations will be before they begin. Allow some conversations to be purely organic.
- Carve out extra time to listen. Whether it be lunches or coffee breaks, take time to connect with your team outside of the office walls. You will be surprised at how a new surrounding can offer a brand-new connection.
Schedules will always feel busy and overwhelming. There will always be more projects, proposals, and fellow leaders you feel you are needing to network with. But more times than not, we just need to put those things aside to truly connect and listen to our teams.
Often, the higher you are in a company, the less honest feedback you receive. The more distant you are in rank from your workers, the less connected you naturally are. Learn to welcome any downtime that comes to get to know your people better. If you are the type who feels you can never afford “downtime,” mark it in your calendar.
Though it is not always in the job description, it is a crucial part of the role. Before you know it, business will resume as usual.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern’s president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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