You Work too Hard – Just Show Up
You’re working way too hard.
“80% of success is just showing up.” Woody Allen
Show up by wandering around.
4 reasons to wander around:
- You get smarter. The people around you know more than you in their area of work and expertise. You lead a dim team, if you’re brighter than everyone on it.
- Humility goes up when you connect.
- Efficiency, creativity, commitment, and satisfaction require feeling connected.
- Wander to monitor energy. Where is energy high or low?
7 rules for wandering around:
- Wander frequently. Wander around enough so that people aren’t worried when they see you coming.
- Don’t invite people to your office. Show up at theirs.
- Acknowledge people when wandering around. Disconnected bosses are too important and busy to smile and say hi.
- Be a learner. Ask people to show you how to do something.
- Learn and repeat names.
- Smile. Give visible expression to the respect you feel for the people on your team. Don’t allow problems to dominate your attitude.
- Prepare yourself. Take three minutes to clear your mind, lower protective walls, and open your heart.
Tip: If you can’t physically wander, pick up the phone or get on Skype.
7 suggestions for wandering themes:
Stay open when walking about, but try keeping a theme in mind.
- Gratitude and praise walks. Go around patting people on the back.
- Keep in touch walks. “What’s happening?”
- Accountability walks. “Where are we making progress?”
- Plans for the weekend walk?
- What’s working walks?
- What could be better walks?
- How can I help walks?
7 suggestions for wandering focus:
Greet everyone, but try centering your attention on certain groups when you wander around.
- Support staff.
- Front-line employee.
- New employees.
- Choose a division. Visit HR or Accounting.
- Contractors and vendors.
Culture building tip: Expect all managers to engage and report on wandering around.
How might leaders take wandering around to new heights?
Which of these ideas could you implement today?
Totally agree that walking around and truly connecting with people makes a huge positive impact on employees. Leadership sometimes underestimates the power of a genuine question about how someone is doing or asking about their vacation. Meeting them where they are and genuinely connecting, will help you build a culture of trust and respect.
I love that you included “open your heart.” Too many people view heart-centered as a something soft that could potentially make them weak. I believe it is at the core of truly being a great leader and is a leadership super power.
Thank you for another great post!
Thanks Mim. It really hit me that you can’t really connect unless you meet people where they are. We can be so obsessed about making progress that we don’t accept and connect. Cheers
Dan, this is probably one of the best posts! I call it leadership by “walking around.” When leaders get out there and see first hand what makes an organization tick they inspire people. People feel inspired because you have taken time out of your day to visit them and learn about their contributions to the organization. You can take this to a new height by sharing the experience in an all hands communication and include some photos of the team members you met and explain what they do and what you learned. It is really powerful and worth the investment in time. It is the epitome of searving. Thanks, this post has really inspired me!
Thanks Joe. I think the MBWA movement was started by Tom Peters and his reference to Hewlett and Packard in his book In Pursuit of Excellence. Sometimes the simpliest things make the most difference.
Dan great subject and post.
When I was CFO I would wander often and would like to add two thoughts:
1. Once a week I would wander by each of my direct reports and would time my walk to when I knew they were quiet and not busy. If the Investor Relations person got in early, I would go then. If the Controller usually stayed late, that is when I would visit.
2. Sometimes I would target the whole department. If most of the Internal Audit team was in I would stop and engage all of them often commenting on some company issue or event and ask for any reactions. You have to do this several times before the junior people get comfortable talking to the boss.
Brad James, The Business Zoo
Thanks Brad. It’s great that you bring the idea of timing. Powerful!
Dan — I always enjoy your content, and this is one of the best I’ve read — every element is thought provoking — thanks!
I agree! Wandering around can be informative and break down barriers, allowing better two-way communication. I have found that two of the keys to effective wandering are (1) put the smartphone away–eye contact is important in the hallways to connect with folks and invite conversation, and (2) walk at a leisurely pace to invite people to stop and chat with you Hallway conversations are more likely to happen when you don’t appear to be on your way to a meeting, or someplace else.
Great article! I like the “wandering” concept….I’m going to utilize this approach–I find I scare some of my department heads when I have them read Studer and talk about “rounding for a purpose”….”wandering” theme might be just what we need!
How true! The #1 rule for wandering around definitely sets the tone for informal coaching opportunities. “Wander frequently. Wander around enough so that people aren’t worried when they see you coming.” I’ve been working on various techniques for our supervisors to use to be more visible and think that the seven suggestions for wandering themes is exactly what they need. If they do it frequently and keep the seven themes in mind, they can complete multiple informal coaching sessions on a daily basis just by showing up. Employees won’t be fearful when they see them coming, but come to expect and enjoy it. As always, well done!
When I started managing, my mantra was “Show up and participate.” If you do that you are almost certain to get things accomplished as a group. Showing up from a leadership standpoint means being available, approachable and accessible to others. Too many managers and leaders lead from above, instead of aside, their work groups.
Thank you for this super initiating post! I’m not even a manager and I walk around the office like I’m too busy and important hah. Today I’m going to wander around the office to ask questions rather than emailing, and try and say hi to people I don’t normally talk to!
This is a great article, and I have a perfect example on why wandering around works. One year after my performance review my boss, the Director of Engineering, asked me what he could do better. I told him he scares the hell out of the junior engineers and he should take the time to sit with them and chit chat. He needed to build a better rapport so they would feel comfortable enough to come to him for help. He was taken aback that he intimidated the junior engineers but took my advice to heart and wandered around. This was a man who had more experience in our line of work than the junior engineers (and me) had been on this earth, so it would have been a waste not to take advantage of his knowledge. It took a few months, but eventually I saw junior engineers in his office asking for help who I’d never seen in there before.
Excellent piece of advice… Many thanks for sharing.
One thing I’d add to your excellent advice is when wandering around, don’t bring an entourage!
Interesting article. Inefficiency in the workplace is something that is probably one of the most acknowledged yet misunderstood topics of conversation. People understand that they can achieve so much more in significantly less time/utilising significantly less energy, but oftentimes fail to understand how. This article goes some way to explaining that/offering suggestions.
Love this message! It makes me think of a very thick rope. It’s strength is derived from “intertwining”. Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one person may be overpowered by another, two people can resist one opponent. A triple-braided rope is not easily broken. There is huge value in so many ways from building trust to coaching/mentoring. In crisis it becomes a lifeline!