When we think of style, we tend to think of beauty and fashion. In business, and in managing and leading people, we are not so much interested in appearance (although from a service delivery perspective this can influence and impact how people see and interact with our business), we are more interested in understanding our people and each person’s individual style.
Each of us is different. Each of us is influenced by our upbringing, our culture, our education, our interactions with others, our experiences, and so the list goes on. What happens in the workplace though, when we’re busy and focusing on the requirements of the job and looking ahead at what needs to be achieved, is we tend to narrow our perspective to expecting people to be like ourselves. Why can’t my staff see things the way I do? Why can’t they get the job done as quickly as me? Why can’t they write the report using the language I would expect? Why can’t they just get on with each other and focus on the task?
For me, I will generally to get into the office and get straight into my work; I’m task-driven. Then I have one of my senior staff stroll in some time after me, bag in hand, coffee in the other and lean in my office doorway. She wants to chat, catch up on what happened last night at home, or tell me about the conversation she had with one of her staff and the issues that person’s having with her kids, or some other personal topic of likely marginal interest to me. I listen and am as attentive as I can be for the first few minutes and then I tend to drift back to the email I’ve half written or the paragraph I was constructing, while then only half listening to the conversation at the door.
So I’ve learnt that I need to be less task-driven, and more people-focused. I’ve had to learn that being task driven (all the time) does not always get the best out of my people. Spending 10 minutes chatting and engaging helps the people-focused employee to settle and actually helps them to be more productive through the day. In fact I need to do this with all employees so that I can adjust my expectations and provide support if there’s something happening behind the scenes.
Recognising that everyone is different, ensuring I am inclusive of the difference in personalities, opinions, approaches, likes and dislikes, all goes to ensuring a harmonious work place. Jesus chose 12 disciples and had a bunch of others he loved to hang with, including a handful of prominent women. These people were all very different, from different backgrounds and with different experiences in life. Jesus came alongside each of them, and loved them for who they were. He was a friend and mentor. While we may not always want to be, nor is it always appropriate to be close friends with those we lead and manage, we can and need to come alongside them, and love and support them for who they are.