During a recent conversation I asked a leader what was the biggest challenge facing the organization. After a few moments, the reply went something like this…(the particular organization works multiple shifts).
“The newer employees have a negative view of who I am as a leader. Whenever I try to improve or change the organization, there is a surprising level of resistance, especially from the newer employees.”
After a series of questions, I learned that besides conducting a final interview, this leader could not tell me the last time he personally interacted with any new employees in the last two years. On top of that, the shift work is based on seniority, so most new employees work on the night shift.
This leader is busy and works long hours every day; every day – during the day. So, to state the obvious this leader is relying on co-workers and supervisors on the least desirable shift to set the tone of who this leader is. Relying on others to tell your “leadership story” and provide the context of where the organization is heading and why a particular change is needed is simply not a recipe for success.
When faced with the reality of the reliance on others to tell this leader’s “story” the solution became clear.
“So, what you are saying is that I need to be present and available to interact with those employees…you mean on a regular basis?”
“Only if you want to make a difference.”
Do you want to make a difference? Or, are you relying on others to provide the narration of your leadership story? Do employees hear from you? We are not talking about memos and emails! When was the last time you regularly interacted with employees so they know and understand who you are and why they should place their trust in you, and give their hard work to the organization.
Sometimes you will need to ask someone to remind or hold you accountable to put this into practice. That reminds me, I have to call this leader and ask if they were on the night shift during the past month. Wish me luck.