I sat through the meeting and grinded my teeth to near nubs. Not only was the meeting uninspiring; it was at best being talked at for a good hour. After this the team was somehow supposed to be excited and energized.
What’s the big deal, right? It was just meeting. But meetings set the tone. They are an opportunity to engage versus am opportunity to hear the sound of your own voice.
To truly engage, you need to talk with your team rather than at your team. That means being willing to be vulnerable and open. Not something that is easy to do.
Here are a few examples of talking at people:
- John, you didn’t complete your task that I gave you Monday. That is not acceptable and you will not do that again.
- Guys, make sure you smile when you talk to a customer. That is company policy.
- This change in policy is made because I said so. (yes, I have seen the “parent” tactic employed)
Now do we want a democracy? No. We have to make decisions that require us to make them quick and often without discussion. But how we convey that information is everything.
Now here are some examples of talking with people:
- Hey John, it looks like you weren’t able to complete that task I assigned Monday. Was there an obstacle or struggle you ran in to?
- Please make sure when greeting or speaking with a customer, you try to smile. This can help defuse an angry customer or start the interaction with greater positivity. When do you find it hard to do that?
- I understand that we weren’t able to explain the new policy ahead of time. Unfortunately it required a sudden decision. Let’s talk about the policy in the next meeting and see about any pain points.
Speaking with people opens the door for interaction, feedback, and engagement. Talking at people shuts those doors down. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive. Being on the side of your team means being willing to have conversations. Which one would you rather work for?