I believe the greatest gift we can give anyone right now is our full, undivided attention. It is about being present, focused, and engaged.
How often do you get frustrated when you feel you have to repeat yourself? Admittedly, I have experienced extreme frustration when I have explained something then the same employee comes back five minutes later and asks a question about what was just explained. They may have heard me, but they did not really listen.
In last week’s post, I discussed how a senior leader can change the culture of an entire organization in a few simple steps: model the behavior, explain it, talk about it frequently, and become relentlessly consistent in ensuring the new behavior is followed by all. As this begins to take hold within a leadership team, it can then flow through the rest of the organization.
During one of my coaching sessions, I was sharing the challenge a CEO was facing regarding people listening. Although this CEO’s patience was improving, he was still frustrated about why he needed to be so understanding with C-level executives. I can agree with this some, but as work-from-anywhere organization, it is easy for employees to be distracted – distracted by additional screens, with Slack, and simply by working from home. When this combines with Zoom fatigue, people often end up only partially mentally present in the meetings. As a result, they are not always hearing and registering topics that are discussed.
I was present for a few of the meetings and knew that this CEO was engaged, but it could appear like he was distracted. This, unintentionally, gave others permission to do the same. Things were missed or would necessitate being restated.
I challenged the CEO on this, and he agreed. If he did not model a culture of being 100% present, why would anyone else? He decided to minimize the distractions and stay focused on the people he was engaging with – including his three-year-old at home. I encouraged him to dig deep, focus intently on the speaker, and be 100% present. As a result, people started becoming more present with him and listened better. In turn, it required less repeating and led to faster outcomes.
His next step was to talk with the members of his leadership team and ask them to help hold him accountable to being present – an action that truly impacted this leadership team to be more present. In an ideal scenario, this will have a monumental effect of creating a culture of being present. Imagine that! What if everyone in your organization was 100% present for all meetings and conversations. How much more effective would your organization be?
The three steps to drive change in culture are:
- Leading by example and modifying the behavior you wish to grow
- Communicating it, explaining why, and asking others to help hold you accountable
- Being relentlessly consistent in implementation and follow-through
It does not happen overnight…but if done consistently, these three steps can change your culture. If your change is focused on being present, the long-term effect will save time and drive efficiencies.
What is a cultural behavior you are looking to change?