Have you every dreamed for a day when you didn’t have any meetings — or any “I-just-need-a-minute” conversations in the hall or interruptions of any kind — basically, a day with a to-do list and without people? Wouldn’t that be a productive?
“Not really,” says Douglas Conant, former president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company. “All those chats, meetings and interruptions are vital points of contact that leaders can use to get an awful lot of work done.”
My first reaction was, Are you for real? Is that yours as well!
In his book TouchPoints, Creating Powerful Leadership Connections In the Smallest of Moments, he states that every face-to-face conversation brings the opportunity to engage employee in their work and the company as well as promote your leadership. Here are excerpts from a Gallup Management Journal (GMJ) conversation with Conant about why small interactions matter.
GMJ: What is a “touchpoint”
Conant: TouchPoints are everyday encounters in which there’s an issue, there’s you, and there’s another person or another group of people. They are not necessarily planned meetings.
For too long, people have thought about leadership as this big aspirational idea — to become a leader, you’ve got to go to business school and you’ve got to read all these books. What we’ve found is that effective leaders are highly effective in these hundreds of touchpoints every day. That’s where they have a chance to bring their strategies, their values and their leadership to life in personally relevant ways.
GMJ: So the difference between a touchpoint and an interruption your perspective?
Conant: It is. Every interruption can be a touchpoint if you do three things: . Listen to the interruption, frame the issue in some way, and advance the conversation. That’s how you handle a touchpoint — and you can do it in twenty seconds. It’s all about being very alert to these conversations and making the most of them instead of dismissing them so you can get back to work.
GMJ: Can you give me an example of how this works in the real world?
Conant: Let’s say you encounter someone in the hall, and he has something to say to you. The first thing to do is listen intently. Then you make sure you understand whose issue it is. Is it his issue, is it your issue, or is it an issue the two of you share?
After you’ve listened intently for twenty seconds or however long it takes, frame the issue. You could say something like, “OK, as I understand it, this is what you’re saying, and this is the situation we’re facing.” He confirms that, and then you find a way to advance the issue. If he needs your approval for something, you can say, “Go ahead” or “Wait a minute, please check with so and so.” If it’s his issue and he’s just looking for your advice, you can offer some advice. But in every touchpoint, you want to advance things forward in some meaningful way.
Smart Moves Tip:
Leadership is a relationship sport. It’s interacting and engaging people every single day. Some leaders consider most of these interactions interruptions to be avoided. Rather they are a chance to connect in positive ways that develop trust, strengthen communication and build employee engagement. See Credibility Bank Account.
How effective are you in those minutes with those interruptions, those phone calls, and in those conversations with someone in the hall who’s been meaning to talk to you or with someone you bump into on the plant floor who has a question for you?
Do you know what YOU do today will influence your success in 3, 5 or 10 years?
Don’t Gamble With Your Future! Is Executive Coaching For You? Let’s Talk! © 2012 Marcia Zidle – The Actualizer- Career Strategist and Leadership Coach