Some weeks ago Harvard Business Review magazine published an interesting leadership hint for those of us who are always running against the clock. We live in hectic times where there is very little time to complete all our tasks and we are still expected to coach and lead others. What do we do to make sure everything fits?
In our busy business lives, it is not uncommon that we end up filling up our agendas to the limit. Recurring meetings as well as ad hoc ones topped with our own targets and activities can easily take several hours more than what we would normally have available per week. More dangerous still is that we might be overlooking something or someone along the way.
Harvard's hint is an ingenious one: we should implement what is called 'office hours' in academic institutions. Office hours, in University-speak, mean professors reserve around 2 hours per week on their agendas to have their office doors open. During that slot they stay totally available to students. Those willing to ask about essays, clarify assignments or any other related subject are welcome to pay a visit to the professor during the designated weekly slot.
Managers and leaders in general can use the same mechanism to connect with their subordinates. Opening up a disciplined slot in your agenda is a sign that you care about details concerning your team's work, that you are open to listen, and act upon the needs of your subordinates and/or the projects you are working on.
Moreover, the ability to systematically spare a precious agenda slot shows your control over time and not vice versa.
Make sure you reserve enough time for your subordinates and make sure they know when and how they can approach you. Motivate them to visit, contact or reach you using any means possible and covering issues that would be normally overlooked. If weekly allocations are just too radical, try at least monthly or biweekly. Your subordinates will be glad and your projects' results will be better.