Walking the Floor.

Managers in our industry are obviously challenged in leading and motivating their teams in today’s disrupted, work-from-home, shared-family-space environment. As I coach and counsel them, my advice centers on three core principles: Values, Structure and Presence. Rooting your team and your decisions in clear values is vital at a time of uncertainty; helping them create the structure and boundaries to return to productivity is equally crucial. But I’m going to save those themes for my next posts.

Today it’s about presence: Yours. Great sales managers have always understood the power of Walking the Floor… being a physical presence in the office by walking from workstation to workstation. These managers understood that looking in someone’s eyes and getting a sense of their mood and energy was vital. It told them I’m here, I see you, and I’m paying attention. It’s the time that a hidden concern could emerge or a spontaneous coaching opportunity arise.

So how do we walk the floor today when we’re all on different floors in different dwellings in different cities? How does each of us reinvent and extend our presence to show our employees that I’m here, I see you, and I’m paying attention? I have ideas.

Your scheduled calls are just a start. Like parenting, management doesn’t happen at fixed times. Your weekly 1:1 calls and team meeting are fine, but they’re not enough. Nor is it OK to just connect when it’s prompted by an issue, question or problem. A good rule of thumb is this question: How will I have some kind of touch with each of my directs and key internal partners today?

Don’t leave it up to them. It’s easy to say I’m here if you need me. But it can also be relatively meaningless. Like when someone’s going through loss or tough times and nine people say If there’s anything I can do… Much more meaningful to the one who disrupts with an observation. Hey Maggie…I know you’re working on the ABC proposal…how’s your stress level?

Support doesn’t have to be complicated. Unable to say the perfect thing, too often we say nothing. Sometimes Just wanted you to know I was thinking about you or Letting you know I appreciate how you’re working through this is plenty.

Use the tools. For some of you Slack or G-Chat might make sense. I think dropping someone a short text can be a great way to walk the floor. I also like the idea of a brief voice mail: when 95% of all communication is digital, the human voice brings clarity and reassurance.

Your team needs you, collectively and individually. Your presence matters. Walk the floor, virtually. You’ll take the relationship with your people to a whole new level.