When you saw the title of this article you probably said, “Yes. Finally someone is writing about my crazy boss who can’t stay focused on one topic for more than a few days and then is off on another tangent.” Companies too can suffer from ADD; one day we’re going one direction and the next day another. Bosses and companies that can’t focus and finish something are frustrating and often struggle with performance. They create a group of followers who have learned that the best option when given an assignment is to do nothing and wait for new orders to follow. This is a real issue and certainly a worthy topic for an article. But that’s not the ADD I’m referring to. The ADD I want to talk about is Affection Deficit Disorder.
Affection Deficit Disorder is a failure to connect. It occurs when too much attention is on results and not enough on relationships. Make no mistake; results are important, very important. But an organization whose connection and communication is all about performance is an uninspiring and energy sapping environment. When employees cannot connect at work, they leave. Creating connections is an essential skill for every leader to develop. You can’t separate performance from relationships. If you want a great organization, employees need to feel connected.
Connections happen at different levels. Employees must connect horizontally with their peers. At that level they’re welcomed in as part of the team. Employees must also connect with their leader. Connecting at this level establishes their value and purpose for being on the team. If employees don’t feel connected in the work environment, they’ll look elsewhere. Employees need to be supported as individuals and when they are, performance goes up, their contribution increases and their overall attitude improves.
Connections knit people together at a human level. Employees need to feel connected and engaged to contribute their maximum. For some leaders, building connections comes naturally. For others, whom it doesn’t come quite as easy, I’ve identified a few simple steps to get started on curing Affection Deficit Disorder. However you build your connection, it should be authentic and reflect the unique personality and style of the leader.
Develop the habit of walking around, not to check up, but to check on. Employees enjoy a brief visit on the job when it’s not about how they’re performing. There’s another time for that. Regular walk-arounds enable you to connect with individuals at a personal level. It can be as simple as a question about the weekend or their family. In either case the individual has been recognized for the full person they are and feels comfortable in a one-on-one connection with you. Be deliberate about the frequency of your walk-arounds and who you connect with. Spread the love, even to those whose performance isn’t where you’d like it to be.
Create a schedule of regular individual meetings with your direct reports. There are few meetings that will get more results than a regular one-on-one meeting with direct reports. These meetings are dual purposed. On one hand they serve as coordination, developmental and performance meetings. They also serve as a great connecting opportunity. One-on-one meetings are an opportunity for the employee to have your personal attention. That matters to them more than you think. Use the opportunity to encourage, support and affirm them. Your insistence to keep the schedule reinforces with them how important they are to you.
Begin the practice of periodic and regular all-employee meetings. Often all-employee meetings are conducted on an as-needed basis. Unfortunately, when times are good there’s no need to meet and when times are tough, there’s neither the time nor desire to meet. The result is a lot of time passes between meetings. These meetings matter to employees. First, it’s an opportunity to connect through assembly. It may be one of the only times they gather together on the job. The symbolism of everyone in the same place at the same time reinforces that they’re all part of the same team. It’s also a great opportunity, and maybe the only opportunity, where you can engage in connection around values, principles or the need to pull together. It’s OK to discuss performance, but there has to be a big dose of connection. It’s not as much about what you have to say as it is about how you say it. You also don’t need a reason to meet, only a schedule. As you develop the habit of assembling together on a regular basis you’ll find you always have enough to talk about.
Medication won’t help when it comes to Affection Deficit Disorder. You’re the prescription. What matters is that employees see in you a sincere and caring attitude and leading with a philosophy that people matter.
If you’d like to discuss your own cure for Affection Deficit Disorder, reach out to me through our website or the “contact us” tab on this page.