Speaking of unintended consequences, leaders can do more harm to productivity than good when flying in to check on the troops.
Last week a VP of Operations shared his frustration over the CEO, CFO and President flying in for the day without an agenda. They asked, “What are you guys doing?” and then sat with frowns on their faces as the local team made their presentations. The VP explained that these leaders do not seem to understand that their visits scare everyone to death, distract from real work and consume time and resources in the days leading up to the visit. Productivity tanks as everyone focuses their attention on preparing presentations.
Leaders who want to be visible and connected to the people on the front line should pay close attention to how they will be perceived. Those who do it best have a clear and purposeful message to communicate and they deliver it in a sincere and inspiring way. More importantly, they are fully aware that people are listening to every word and analyzing body language.
In times like these when everyone is worried about keeping their jobs and being as productive as possible, leaders will do well to communicate candidly on the state of the business, acknowledge the things people are doing well, explain what has to be done in order to succeed and show a little positive energy during the engagement.
Next time you show up, make sure it doesn’t cause your people to slow up.